AUGUSTA, Maine – Several environmental groups are petitioning state utility regulators to reconsider their ruling on the effect of one missing word – “and” – in the state’s omnibus energy bill.
Last month in a case involving the missing word, the Maine Public Utilities Commission ruled 2 to 1 in favor of cutting a funding cap for energy efficiency programs administered by Efficiency Maine from $60 million to $22 million.
At issue was the wording in a major energy bill enacted in 2014. In one section of the bill dealing with energy efficiency funding, the word “and” was inadvertently left out. That missing word, two of the three PUC commissioners concluded, meant that the cap for funding energy efficiency programs would have to be cut by $40 million.
Three groups, the Conservation Law Foundation, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and the Maine Association of Building Efficiency Professionals today filed a motion with the PUC to “reconsider” that order.
“The PUC made a baseless decision that will cost Mainers hundreds of millions of dollars, if not corrected,” says Dylan Voorhees, the Natural Resource’s Council’s clean energy director, in a statement. “The PUC’s original Order goes out of its way to justify ignoring the Legislature’s clear intent.”
Meanwhile, a legislative fix is still on the table. Democrats are supporting a plan that would simply restore the missing “and.” Many Republicans, on the other hand, are supporting Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s plan, which would include major changes in the governance of the Efficiency Maine program.