The simple fix to a clerical error that could cut Maine’s energy-efficiency funding by $38 million dollars was overwhelmingly approved by the Maine House of Representatives and is awaiting hearing in the Senate.
LD 1215, proposed by Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon (D-Freeport), corrects a one-word typo in the 2013 energy bill that set Efficiency Maine funding levels. There has been broad bipartisan support for simply restoring the missing “and,” and Gideon’s bill sailed through the House with a 138-1 vote on May 6.
It is on the Senate docket as “unfinished business,” and may remain stalled until the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee deals definitively with a competing bill, LD 1221. That bill, proposed by House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) and supported by Governor Paul LePage, would restore Efficiency Maine funding while also giving the governor’s office more power over the now-independent agency. Some legislators advocate separating those two aspects of Fredette’s bill by removing the “and” provision before considering the other proposals. The bill, as written, has been tabled in committee.
Supporters of the simple fix – including legislators on both sides of the aisle, as well as business leaders, environmental groups, consumer advocates, and Maine citizens – have urged the legislature to resolve the funding debate before considering changes to Efficiency Maine’s structure. They hope to achieve “veto-proof” approval of LD 1215 by two-thirds of Maine senators and representatives. Constituents who wish to weigh in should contact their legislators directly.