As Maine Risks Energy Blackouts This Winter, Mills Touts Electricity Handout

Power grid manager ISO New England is flashing the warning lights, while Gov. Janet Mills promises $7 million in taxpayer funded utility relief -- credits that will hit accounts just before Election Day.


Maine, and the rest of New England, may face energy blackouts this winter due to sky prices for liquified natural gas (LNG) imports, New England’s power grid manager has warned.

“The most challenging aspect of this winter is what’s happening around the world and the extreme volatility in the markets,” ISO New England COO Vamsi Chadalavada told the Wall Street Journal.

At the time this post was written, natural gas supplied 37 percent of New England’s electricity, up from an average of 15 percent in 2000, according to ISO New England, which manages the New England power grid and provides regular updates on the blend of energy sources. Nuclear power represented 29 percent of power generation while non-hydro renewables, such as wind and solar, accounted for 12 percent.

The company said in May that infrastructure deficiencies, such as the lack of pipeline capacity to transport LNG into New England, are part of the problem. Now, skyrocketing global demand is boosting competition for the scarce resource and increasing prices.

On Tuesday, Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, announced that a new state program was going to provide more than 2,900 Maine businesses and non-profits with a taxpayer funded handout to help with electricity bills.

The State Legislature created the program in an April 2022 bill. The bill allows the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development to fund the handout with $7 million in federal money allocated under the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. That money is largely the product of new debt owed by Americans.

According to the text of new law, the payments will be credited to approved utility accounts on October 30 — nine days before Election Day.


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