How a missing word and a few misguided bills could undermine Maine’s energy future

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By Annie Gilleo, Senior Policy Analyst

Who knew an “and” could unravel everything? In Maine, we’re seeing just how much damage three missing letters can do.

In 2013, the Maine legislature passed the Omnibus Energy Act, stabilizing funding for the energy efficiency programs led by the state’s third-party administrator, the Efficiency Maine Trust. The law raised the amount of funds going to Efficiency Maine, setting spending requirements as a percentage of retail and transmission and distribution sales. The problem? Despite the clear intent of the legislation, a drafting error left out the “and,” leaving the door open for state regulators to reduce energy efficiency program budgets by nearly $40 million by capping efficiency spending based on just a portion of sales.

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The Omnibus Energy Bill was an important step for a state with a shaky past when it comes to energy efficiency. In our State Scorecard, Maine ranked 12th overall in 2011. Just a year later, Maine fell 13 spots in our rankings to 25th, farther than any other state. This drop was largely due to the significant defunding of Efficiency Maine. But in 2013, Maine was back on track because of the Omnibus Energy Bill, and was one of the most improved states in our Scorecard.

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Today the future looks uncertain again. Earlier this year, two out of the three Maine public service commissioners took advantage of a missing three-letter word in the Omnibus Energy Bill to slash efficiency funding (and confirmed their decision just this week with another 2-1 vote). State legislators were swift to respond with a quick-fix bill that would add the “and” back into the legislation as originally intended. But the floodgates have opened and, with Governor LePage indicating he would not support the quick-fix bill , a host of other bills have been introduced that would further undermine the state’s successful energy efficiency programs…

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To continue reading this blog post, visit: http://aceee.org/blog/2015/05/how-missing-word-and-few-misguided

About ACEEE: The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit aceee.org.

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