Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine, in opposition of LD 1398 “An Act To Reduce Electric Rates for Maine Businesses”

January 7, 2016

Senator Woodsome, Representative Dion and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, my name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine.

We are a statewide non-partisan non-profit working to improve Maine’s economy, support our distinctive communities, and enhance our state’s quality places. The key in my work is the need to balance these components of life in Maine; our economy, environment and communities.

LD 1398 upends the balanced approach Efficiency Maine offers in its current plan for use of RGGI funds.  RGGI monies leverage private investments in reducing energy costs for both homeowners and businesses.  Using RGGI funds, Efficiency Maine helps Maine businesses, including large manufacturers like SAPPI in Skowhegan and Westbrook and Huhtamaki in Waterville, make capital investments in energy efficiency that they would not otherwise be able to make. This helps them become more competitive and stay in Maine.

Accommodations have been made.  Efficiency Maine’s upcoming 3-year plan, beginning July, 2016, was drafted with 100% of RGGI funds allocated for energy efficiency. Initially, it maintained 50% of the funds going to business efficiency improvements, and increased home heating efficiency from 35% to 50%. The plan was amended at the urging of the LePage Administration to reduce home heating efficiency budgets back down to 35% of the RGGI funds.  The current plan strikes an appropriate balance.

The value of consistent and fair policies to Maine businesses is clear and is one issue on which I testify fairly regularly.  This is how Maine can promote economic growth that strengthens the quality of life we all value.  But that’s not what this bill offers and so I ask members of this committee to vote ought not to pass on LD 1398.