The governor said that heat pumps, not solar rebates, are key to the state’s energy future.
By Matt Byrne, Staff Writer
Portland Press Herald news story
Gov. Paul LePage and officials at the state energy office announced plans Tuesday to increase logging on public lands and use the new revenue to help Mainers convert inefficient home heating systems.
The outline of the legislation is similar to a previous bill submitted by the governor which is bogged down in the state Senate, LePage said. He assailed Democrats for indefinitely delaying the legislation and focusing instead on a solar power rebate program that he said is not feasible.
Flanked by state energy officials and representatives from oil, gas and energy delivery companies, LePage accused Democrats of cowing to special interest groups, instead of helping Maine people, who are freezing in their homes.
LePage implored the Legislature to do more to help Mainers, and to invest in growing technologies and energy sources, including heat pumps and natural gas, that both help families save money, and attract businesses by making the energy market in Maine more competitive.
“This bill died because the Natural Resource Council of Maine didn’t want revenues to go help Maine people, they wanted it to go buy land,” LePage said. “I find that scandalous.”
He also took shots at Democrats and their focus on solar rebates, which he said are not a cost-effective solution.
LePage’s proposal would increase annual timber harvesting in state-owned forests, but it was unclear by how much. The governor suggested that $1 million from the increased cutting would go toward helping families install heat pumps and upgrade to more efficient furnaces to save money.
Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, rejected the use of public forests to generate revenue.
“Our public lands are not an ATM machine to fund programs, whether those are good programs or bad ones,” Voorhees said.
Voorhees said that many of the energy-saving methods the governor suggested are already available through Efficiency Maine and funded by the omnibus energy bill.
“This is a successful program that we got in place because of legislation passed last year, that the governor vetoed,” Voorhees said.