“Using less energy saves families and businesses money.” This truism guides the mission of Efficiency Maine Trust, a state-funded entity designed to provide low-risk, high-reward energy efficiency resources to families and businesses in the state. Saving money is usually something everyone can agree on, and yet Governor LePage and his appointees on the Public Utilities Commission seem intent on disagreeing – at least when it comes to energy efficiency.
For the past two years, the PUC has gone out of its way to try to undercut the mission of Efficiency Maine Trust, contrary to the PUC’s legal mandate to provide the Trust with a level of funding that maximizes savings for all customers. In 2015 the Maine Legislature rebuked the PUC’s efforts to do that through a cramped reading of the law that today would be characterized as being based on “alternative facts.” Undeterred, last year, the PUC succeeded in slashing Efficiency Maine’s proposed three-year budget by 30% – thereby robbing Mainers of $250 million in overall projected savings over those three years.
This time, the state legislature can’t solve the problem. That’s why CLF is taking the PUC to court, and asking Maine’s highest court to find that, in drastically cutting funding for Efficiency Maine Trust, the Commission failed to follow the mandates set by the legislature.
We at CLF have been working on increasing energy efficiency programs across New England for years, because these programs have been proven successful again and again. Every $1 spent on energy efficiency yields between $2 and $3 in savings (think LED lightbulbs, which Mainers can buy at a lower price at Home Depot thanks to Efficiency Maine Trust). The Trust’s 2016 programs alone helped reduce Mainers’ energy bills by more than $300 million and cut more than 115,000 tons of climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy efficiency programs benefit our wallets, our economy, and our environment. How can we afford not to fully fund them?
We look forward to the opportunity to argue our case before Maine’s highest court in Portland later this spring and we encourage you to attend. Be sure you’re signed up for our email alerts to get an update when the date and time are announced. In the meantime, we’ll continue to press the PUC, the Legislature and the LePage administration to use common sense to help us all save some money, save our climate, and grow our economy.