AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage said Friday that he doesn’t support a Democratic proposal that would fix what has been called a $38 million typo in a previously enacted energy bill that, among other things, provides almost twice that amount in funding for Efficiency Maine projects.
LePage stopped short of saying he’d veto the “simple fix” bill proposed by Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon, a Democrat from Freeport. At least two Republican legislators, Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta and Rep. Larry Dunphy of Embden, have expressed support for the concept of a “simple fix” bill.
LePage has aligned with House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, on a competing bill that would fix the typo — adding the word “and” — while also creating a Department of Energy in the executive branch and give the governor’s office more power over Efficiency Maine.
“If I read them and they give us what we asked for, I will let it go,” said LePage of Gideon’s bill or anyone else’s. “It’s not about a three-letter word. The three-letter word is going to increase the electricity rates for Mainers by $38 million. Now that’s more important than three-letter words. Thirty-eight million dollars. My point is there better be a payback for the people of Maine. If you’re going to ask them to pay more, at least give them accountability.”
Both Fredette’s and Gideon’s bills are in the early stages of going through the Legislature. Fredette has not identified any other supporters for his proposed legislation.
At issue is a Maine Public Utilities Commission interpretation of the new law, which was passed in 2014. That interpretation, passed late last month by a 2-1 vote of the commission’s members, essentially cut $38 million in funding for Efficiency Maine.