As governor of Maine, I believe in change that will truly make a difference in the way we do business, protect our most vulnerable and improve our lives. In order to get there, we need to focus on five areas.
Those areas include reform in the way of regulation, pensions, taxes, health care and energy.
This week, gas prices reached $5 per gallon in Washington, D.C., and $4 in many parts of Maine.
Chaos in the Middle East, the value of the U.S. dollar, and price speculation has steadily led to higher oil prices.
Unfortunately, Maine is dependent on a world oil market to supply transportation fuel and heating oils. In the short term, conservation will help minimize costs, but it is only a small portion of the solution.
I urge the president to look for immediate alternatives. A recent study shows if the government will sign off on a plan to open the eastern Gulf of Mexico, portions of the Rocky Mountains, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelf to oil and natural gas exploration and production, the industry would create 530,000 jobs by 2025. In return, we would see a stronger economy and enhanced energy security.
Electricity prices are compiled by three things – production of energy, T & D also known as transmission and distribution and, of course, government. Recently, the loyal opposition voted to add $25 million to your energy costs. That’s going in the wrong direction.
If we do not commit to lowering our energy costs we are at least a decade away from becoming a competitive state.
Maine’s existing energy needs are met from three primary sources - fossil fuel, biomass and hydropower.
Every year we use 1.6 billion gallons of petroleum fuels, which include oil, propane, diesel, gasoline and kerosene. While energy efficiency is an important means of reducing energy costs, the greater utilization of more cost effective non-foreign oil sources will be essential to achieve our goal.
I have asked Ken Fletcher, director of the Office of Energy Independence and Security, to identify opportunities to lower the total cost of energy to consumers in our state. Director Fletcher is capable and committed to finding the right solutions that will benefit the entire state.
To achieve the reduction in electricity prices, other more cost effective forms of generation will need to be utilized and consumers will need better price security.
There is some good news. Just this week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration released price data that indicates Maine’s average retail price of electricity has decreased.
In 2009, Maine had the 10th highest electricity prices in the country. Now, we’re at the 12th spot. We are moving in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go to where we need to be.
I hope you will consider writing to our congressional delegation about our current oil crisis because each one of us is affected one way or another.
It’s also important for you to reach out to our state elected officials and let them know we can’t afford higher electric bills. Tell your representative and senator you oppose the add-on rates and enough is enough.
I expect gas prices will rise to nearly $5 by Labor Day. If this proves true, it will not be a matter of who will not be able to make ends meet or keep their business afloat. The question will be how many families will have to choose between putting food on the table, heating their homes or putting gas in their cars. Businesses will also suffer. How many workers will be out of a job when their employers are forced to close their doors?
We can’t afford to continue on this path of foreign dependency with so much on the line.
I appreciate you taking the time to listen. Thank you and enjoy the week.
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