Benjamin Franklin said there were only two things certain in life: death and taxes.
Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.
There are two constituents that for far too long have not been represented in Augusta. They are the taxpayer and the ratepayer. It's no secret I'm no fan of excessive taxes. I don't believe burdening Maine people with more taxes is going to make our state prosperous. I also don't support energy policy that shifts costs onto you, the ratepayer. Special interests groups should not come first -- Maine people do.
The electricity rates we're paying right now are starting to climb again after a couple of years of improvement so we must continue to work on ways that will lower our energy costs. Additionally, we must address the extra charges on electricity bills that subsidize services such as the winterization of homes and welfare programs. These extra charges are a tax on your bill.
This week, Maine was represented at the New England Governors and Canadian Premiers Conference in Burlington, Vermont. Discussions involved the future of the region's energy policy. One thing is obvious: the status quo of continuing to benefit a select few developers at the cost of energy generators and you, the ratepayer, must end. And it is clear that we need to introduce reforms to our energy policy in order to improve Maine's economy. The only way we fix this is to encourage legislators to learn more about it and demand they fix the problem.
This is not a partisan issue: Rhode Island Governor Chafee, an independent, said he intends to remove the 100-megawatt cap on hydro in his state, and Connecticut democratic Governor Malloy acknowledged that high electricity costs in New England are hurting economic development. These are things I have been saying since day one. We need to stand up to the special interests that are preventing Maine and New England from receiving less expensive, reliable energy.
In the coming years, there is going to be an increased demand for energy in New England. This puts Maine in a prime position to be a key energy exporter and transporter for the region. We currently lead New England in renewable energy generation, and are positioned to become a key route to deliver more cost effective Canadian energy to the rest of the region. This would bring significant sums of money into the state and directly benefit Maine ratepayers, but we can't do it without a Legislature determined to represent the interest of the ratepayer.
In the past, Maine has tried subsidizing certain types of energy, and tried forcing energy providers to purchase electricity from specific sources, with no regard of its cost to Mainers. This simply lined the pockets of a select few powerful people, while hurting taxpayers and businesses.
Democrats and Republicans across New England agree that we need to change the way we do energy. We need to increase access to less expensive renewable resources such as hydro and more cost effective North American clean sources such as natural gas, foster partnerships with our Canadian neighbors, and break the stranglehold of special interests.
Your vote counts this November. If you want to lower energy costs we must demand that our elected officials commit to this important reform.
Thanks for listening. Ann and I hope you have a great weekend.