AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Gov. LePage is pushing to lower the electricity rate for industrial users to keep businesses from leaving the state.
LePage said on Thursday he is considering asking lawmakers to lower the rate from a little more than 9 cents per kilowatt-hour to 7 cents an hour.
Maine has one of the lowest industrial rates in New England.
LePage argues Maine is actually in competition with states in the South and Midwest, which have lower rates. He said a number of businesses, including Madison Paper, have relocated to the Midwest to take advantage of cheaper energy costs.
Advocates for renewable energy say LePage's proposal will shift the cost potentially to ratepayers. They believe he should target transmission and distribution costs, which have been rising along with the demand for power.
"We have to be competitive with Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin," the governor said. "That's where the boogeyman is, for instance, Madison Paper – they didn't go out of business, they moved to Minnesota."
"Our transmission and distribution rates have gone up 80 percent in the last 10 years," said Dylan Voorhees of the Maine Natural Resources Council. "It's a huge component of our electric rate, and the governor has not proposed a solution on what to do about that."
LePage said Maine's two utility companies – Central Maine Power and Emera Maine – are not on board with the proposal. As of yet, LePage has not submitted a bill to the legislature for consideration.