Energy bill aims to bring big savings to Mainers

6:37 PM, May 22, 2013   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Maine legislators and the Governor are butting heads on some issues, but they may be working together on another: Cutting energy costs. 

The Legislature's Energy Committee is trying to put the final pieces into place for a major energy bill, that both parties say could save Maine people and businesses hundreds of millions of dollars.

The plan is focused on bringing more natural gas to Maine, and also lowering the price of gas used to generate electricity. 

Natural gas is less expensive than oil or other energy sources for heating homes and businesses. But the plan would also have the state get involved with construction of a new natural gas pipeline that would run from Pennsylvania to New England. 

Under the proposal, Maine would basically contract to buy a certain amount of the gas once the pipeline is built. Supporters say utilities, other businesses and possibly other states would also contract to buy some of the gas.  

Legislators on the Energy Committee say the pipeline would increase the supply of gas for New England power plants, and that would drive down the the price of gas and the cost of electricity. 

Rep. John Cleveland (D-Auburn) says they estimate the new pipeline could cut electricity costs for Maine by $200 million per year. In addition, the energy bill proposes to expand funding for energy efficiency and conservation programs, and create a new loan pool for homeowners and businesses to convert to less expensive heating fuels.

The Governor's office is working with the legislators to develop the plan. If they can agree on all the details in the next few days, they hope to have the Energy Committee pass it by early next week, and then bring the plan up for  votes in the House and Senate in early June.


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