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Lawmakers stymie LePage energy bill

April 17, 2012 | last updated April 18, 2012 10:54 am

The Legislature failed to pass Gov. Paul LePage's bill seeking to remove a 100-megawatt cap on hydro power qualifying for the state's renewable energy guidelines. The House and Senate couldn't come to an agreement on the bill, effectively killing it this session.

LD 1863, one of four energy bills LePage submitted, would have removed the 100-megawatt cap for qualifying renewable generation, specifically hydro power. Hydro power under 100 megawatts is considered renewable, but above that limit is not. Democrats opposed the bill, arguing it only benefited large-scale producer Hydro Quebec, and not Maine-based producers. The LePage administration said the bill would help lower electricity prices.

The Senate last week approved the Energy Committee's minority report, which was very similar to LePage's original bill, while the House backed a majority report that proposed allowing the Maine Public Utilities Commission to determine whether the cap should be lifted, according to the Bangor Daily News. The two bodies, however, were unable to reach a compromise. Lawmakers are in recess until mid-May, when they will return to tackle budget issues.