Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security: New renewable mandate would drive up costs

New renewable mandate would drive up costs

Posted Jan. 14, 2012, at 2:39 p.m.

The recent proposal by the Maine Citizens for Clean Energy coalition to impose a new mandate on consumers to pay for higher-priced electricity will place an enormous burden on Maine people. Electricity rates in Maine are already the 12th highest in the nation and the ballot initiative will require people to pay even more.

The coalition’s proposal would require that Maine ratepayers pay a huge subsidy to certain renewable energy generators to achieve a higher percentage of a particular electricity source. Maine’s current Renewable Portfolio Standard is at 35 percent and is the highest in the nation.

As proposed, the new mandate would require that 50 percent of electricity used in Maine be from specific renewable sources. No other state places such a requirement on their ratepayers. Preliminary estimates indicate that the additional 20 percent renewables by 2020 mandate could add $44 million to $88 million per year to people’s electricity bills. This new subsidy would go to a select few generators both in state and out of state who may not even supply the energy needs of Maine.

While it is understandable that consumers may want to support certain types of electricity generation, I would suggest that they should have the right to decide rather than be forced to comply with a government-imposed mandate. Rather than letting consumers decide, the coalition’s proposal would put in law that certain sources of generation must be used regardless of the cost impact to consumers.

Gov. LePage’s approach is to allow consumers to make the choice as to their energy decisions. Consumers will have the choice to select more renewable energy in the first months of this year through a new offering from the Maine Public Utilities Commission. Why not let the consumers who are paying the bills decide if they want more renewable energy?

Maine deregulated electricity supply in 1998 for the specific purpose of allowing the open market to determine which generation could compete and be most cost-effective. The basic premise was that generators would assume the risk of their decisions as to what source of generation they decided to construct. In turn, the generators would bid in to the market and the lowest cost supply would be selected.

Consumers were supposed to be protected from having to subsidize poor decisions of developers and generators. The coalition’s proposal is going in the opposite direction and would add millions of dollars to consumers’ electric bills.

It would seem once again, that Maine ratepayers are being forced to bail out a few select developers and generators who have apparently invested in technologies that cannot compete in an open market. Many of these generators are already receiving significant taxpayer subsidies but now are demanding more.

Read the rest of Director Ken Fletcher's piece here:

Related must reading: Report of the Citizens' Task Force on Wind Power to the Maine legislature

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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