On April 28, 2016, the Maine House voted to uphold Governor LePage’s veto of L.D. 1649, “An Act To Modernize Maine's Solar Power Policy and Encourage Economic Development,” which would have made comprehensive changes to the solar industry in the state.
LePage’s veto came from his belief that the bill would have raised energy prices on all ratepayers in the state. LePage stated that the bill would increase the costs of doing business in Maine as well as for homes and businesses that cannot afford solar panels “by tens of millions of dollars – picking winners and losers in Maine’s energy mix.” The bill would have increased rates around the fourth year of its plan, adding about 31 cents to the average homeowner’s electric bill, but it also would have drastically increased access to community solar farms, which benefits ratepayers who could not otherwise afford to install solar systems. Read University of Maine economics professor Sharon Klein’s explanation here.
The bill failed by just two votes to achieve a two-thirds majority needed to overturn the veto, losing 96-52. When Democratic leaders brought the bill back for a second vote, it lost again 93-50. Republican lawmakers, Michael Timmons of Cumberland, Brian Hobart of Bowdoinham, MaryAnn Kinney of Knox and John Pichiottti of Fairfield, were accused of “taking a walk” when they voted to override the governor the first time and then failed to vote in the bill’s subsequent appearance.
To read more about this issue, see the Portland Press Herald’s coverage here.
Image courtesy of humble Farmer.