By Nakell Williams
WABI-TV news story
A typo left the word “and” out of a piece of legislation and that mistake could end up costing Mainers millions in higher energy bills.
“It’s completely an accidental typographical error, but it’s now the law and so the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) made this decision based on their interpretation of the law,” said Natural Resources Council of Maine Clean Energy Project Director, Dylan Voorhees.
The bill should have provided $60million for Efficiency Maine, but the Public Utilities Commission followed the letter of the law, because of the missing word, and approved only $22million for programs that help home and business owners improve energy efficiency and lower energy expenses.
“If this doesn’t get fixed, we’re talking about $250 million of higher energy bills for homes and businesses over the next couple of years,” Vorhees added.
“These are programs that help homeowners put in insulation or heat pumps and lower their heating bills. They’re programs that help businesses lower their electricity cost through efficient lighting.”
PUC officials say they were aware of the potential impacts of their decision when they voted a couple of weeks ago, and the majority felt the law was clear as written.
The owner of Kennebec Technologies says businesses will certainly feel the impact if something isn’t done.
“Last fall, our annual contract for electricity went up by 30% which is a dramatic increase. We invested in energy efficiency and that increase will be much less,” said Kennebec Technologies President, Charles Johnson, III.
The PUC says it isn’t their role to change the wording but many are calling on them to do so.
“The law should be fixed also and that will get rid of any ambiguity, ” said Voorhees.
“They have the power. They made this interpretation of the law.”