Despite 8 legislators taking a walk on the solar bill vote today and tremendous pressure from the solar lobby (see photo below), the House was able to sustain Governor LePage’s veto of LD 1649 by a vote of 93-50-8, just 3 votes shy of the required 2/3 majority to override a veto.
As previously reported in The Maine Wire, this bill, sponsored by Representative Dion (D-Portland), would have subsidized solar energy in Maine at the detriment of household ratepayers and businesses, further putting Maine employers at a disadvantage when competing with companies in states with significantly lower energy costs.
While cost projections varied significantly, the Public Utilities Commission estimated that in five years, this legislation would have cost all ratepayers around $22 million annually AND would have cost the general fund $200,000 in the first and second year and $263,000 in 2019.
This bill passed a mere month after Madison Paper announced that it would be the fifth mill within two years to close the doors in Maine, laying off hundreds of workers and crippling the local economy. Tony Buxton, an attorney who lobbies for the Industrial Energy Consumers Group called the closure a “man-made tragedy that could have been avoided” if Maine’s electricity rates were lower.
LD 1649 would have further exacerbated the problem for the benefit of few, and Maine ratepayers can no longer afford such favoritism.
As a typical rule of thumb, any bill that brings the environmental lobby out in such droves can’t be good for Maine taxpayers, and LD 1649 was no exception.
So thank you to Governor LePage for wisely vetoing this legislation, and thank you to all of those who stayed strong to stick up for the working man in Maine by voting to sustain the Governor’s veto.