Gov. LePage has pledged to veto the bill, so now the question is whether Republicans will continue to support it.
by Tom Bell, Staff Writer
AUGUSTA â The Maine House on Friday voted 131-7 to give final approval to L.D. 1559, the Omnibus Energy Bill.
The bill now goes to the Senate for its last stop before landing on the desk of Gov. Paul LePage, who has said he will veto the bill.
The Senate in initial action on Thursday voted 28-7 to pass the bill.
More than two-thirds of members in both chambers voted for the bill, a margin that would be sufficient to override a veto. But Republicans this session so far have shown a willingness to change their votes to sustain the governor’s vetoes.
The bill incorporates ideas from at least nine separate bills and would encourage the expansion of natural-gas pipelines into New England, increase funding for energy-efficiency efforts and provide financial assistance to help low-income families switch to more affordable heating systems.
LePage said he doesn’t like the bill because it does not scale back the state’s ambitious wind power goals, and it doesn’t lift the cap on renewable generators, an action that he believes would open the door to cheaper hydro power from Quebec.
Rep. Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport, the House minority leader, said the bill would lower the state’s high energy costs.
“This is a big deal,” he said. “We will make Maine and New England competitive nationally so we can bring business to Maine and save industrial businesses already here and are threatened by high energy costs.”
There was no roll call taken on the vote, so there is no record of how individual lawmakers voted on the bill.