By Mal Leary
MPBN news story
AUGUSTA, Maine – Members of the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee heard more than four hours of testimony on two bills aimed at fixing a one word mistake in the Omnibus Energy bill.
The mistake in the bill passed last year had the effect of reducing the amount of state funding for efficiency programs by about $40 million.
Sen. Roger Katz, a Republican from Augusta, co-sponsored the bill that simply restored the one word left out of the final version of the law.
“This bill is, to me, simply about fixing a clerical error, honoring one’s word, and doing the right thing without delay,” Katz says. Scores of businesses and advocacy groups testified in support of that bill.
But Gov. Paul LePage wants any fix to also include some changes in the governance of the Efficiency Maine program. He’s proposing that the director be appointed by the governor with confirmation by the Legislature, and that any fees imposed to fund the program be subject to legislative approval. Currently the Public Utilities Commission sets the fees.
“The governor strongly believes that any fee and tax should be considered only by the Legislature, an elected body, not a commission,” said Patrick Woodcock, director of the Governor’s Energy Office. “It’s a principle he applies to government.”