Maine Gov. LePage Vetoes Bipartisan Bill to Help Solar Energy Industry because of 69-Cent a Year Tax Increase

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Gov. Paul LePage (AP Photo)

Efforts to restore a solar energy program in Maine have died at the hands of Republican Governor Paul LePage, who objected to the bill’s planned 69-cent annual tax increase on residents and business owners.

 

Under LD 1252 (An Act to Improve Maine’s Economy and Energy Security with Solar and Wind Energy), a new tax of 0.011 cents per kilowatt-hour would have been established on homeowners and business operators to fund the solar energy program.

The proposal would have translated into homeowners paying an average of 69 cents more a year for their power, based on an average of 63,119 kilowatt-hours per residence (data provided by the Maine Public Utilities Commission).

 

In his veto message, LePage said he couldn’t support a tax increase following the recent increase in electricity rates.

 

“This is a particularly painful time to impose an additional tax on electricity,” LePage wrote. “Energy taxes are regressive and disproportionately hurt our low-income households. This bill would impose the tax on thousands of hardworking families just to provide the few who have the means to purchase a $20,000 solar system with a rebate of an estimated $2,000.”

 

The bill would have revived a solar rebate program to help establish more than 1,250 new solar panel and hot water projects in homes and businesses, according to the Bangor Daily News. In addition, low-income residents who qualify for federal heating assistance would have qualified for rebates for heat pumps under the legislation.

 

LePage’s veto of the bill was “baffling,” according to the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Representative Terry Morrison.

 

“We simply can’t afford to ignore solar energy, which is renewable, clean and helps keep down electricity bills that are rising because of the expansion of transmission and distribution lines,” Morrison said in a written statement.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

LePage Vetoes Solar Energy Bill, Two Others (by Christopher Cousins, Bangor Daily News)

Legislature Overrides LePage Veto of Bill to Protect Fish Spawning Areas from Mining (by Christopher Cousins, Bangor Daily News)

Delivery Rates (Maine Public Utilities Commission)

Labor Dept. Demands Refund for Maine’s Removal of “Pro-Labor” Mural (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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