Given Preliminary House Approval, Omnibus Energy Bill is Senate-Bound
The omnibus energy bill confronts one of the largest problems for Maine people and our economy: energy here costs too much.
Yesterday, the Maine State House of Representatives approved the bill unanimously, after amending that it be effective immediately (rather than 90 days thereafter) once signed by Governor LePage.
Hopefully the bill advances through the Senate with the same enthusiasm. Sadly, the Governor has threatened to veto the bill, although his staff aided in its creation and even he has said that Maine electricity costs are too high. Additionally, natural gas costs are the absolute most expensive in the continental US.
According to an article by contributors to the Bangor Daily News, the omnibus energy bill aims to support the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in purchasing capacity for natural gas pipeline expansion, which, to consumers, means a handful of things. Financial assistance will be provided to low-income families, help to transition to more efficient, affordable heating systems. The bill seeks to eliminate the nearly $200 million “energy tax” consumers pay yearly, since current pipelines are inadequate and struggle to provide enough fuel to Maine during colder months.
This bill surfaces at an interesting time. Late last week, the PUC suggested an audit of Central Maine Power’s (CMP) smart meter program after their estimated savings ($25 Million over 20 years) resulted in an additional $99 Million in net costs (read full article from MPBN here).
Expenses are always expected to occur when transitioning to newer technologies, such as progressing from analog to digital meters. Although utility saves some money from remote meter reding, the most beneficial savings will occur when smart meters are paired with smart controls. Click here for more information.