PORTLAND, Maine — Patrick Woodcock, the director of Gov. Paul LePage’s Energy Office, is stepping down from the position on Dec. 9.
LePage’s office announced the transition in a brief and complimentary statement Wednesday.
“Patrick Woodcock has done an outstanding job, not just for the state of Maine but also for the New England region,” LePage said.
LePage said Woodcock has been “at the forefront of discussions on how to lower energy for the Maine people and the people of New England” and praised his ability to communicate energy policy.
“Although his departure is a sad day for our administration, we are proud of the job he has done for Maine, and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” LePage said.
Woodcock, who’s held the job since 2013, said in a telephone interview that he’s looking to continue working on energy issues regionally or nationally, and he hopes to remain based in Portland.
In his role leading the energy office, Woodcock has represented Maine in regional discussions around energy policy and worked with the Legislature to pursue the governor’s energy agenda. Before the job, he worked on energy issues for Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.
He said Wednesday that he sees his top accomplishments as helping to lower heating costs, boosting incentives and adoption of high-efficiency electric heat pumps and expanding access to natural gas heating.
Woodcock said through his nearly four years in the role that regional cooperation improved, though it did not yield the intended result of a collective purchase of natural gas pipeline capacity.
“We at least have the right structure in place,” he said.
As for state energy policy, Woodcock said getting bills through the Legislature posed some challenges.
“It’s been kind of an impasse between the two sides in the Legislature itself,” Woodcock said.
For his successor, Woodcock said he expects the region’s mix of generation sources will pose challenges and potentially news costs for ratepayers, with more hydropower and potentially offshore wind power sold into the regional grid.
Woodcock said that could mean the fixed bill could go up for keeping other resources at the ready to meet power demand.
“It could be that just to ensure that there will be somebody to provide the electricity will become very expensive,” Woodcock said.
A spokeswoman for the governor said she anticipates the announcement of a replacement before the legislative session scheduled to begin the first week of January.
Jim LaBrecque, a technical adviser on energy for LePage, will be speaking on behalf of the administration during an energy expo hosted by the trade group E2Tech Thursday in Portland.
Jeff Marks, executive director of the trade group that has worked with Woodcock’s office on a state energy plan, said in an email that Woodcock “has been a credible, resilient warrior for the governor on energy policy and has earned the respect of both supporters and critics.”