Maine Biomass Bailout Would Tap $13.4 Million In Public Funds

Lawmakers’ effort to bail out Maine’s six remaining biomass energy plants has shifted from a rescue subsidized by Maine electricity ratepayers to one subsidized by Maine taxpayers. After a series of private negotiations, the Legislature’s Energy and Utilities Committee voted 10-2 late Thursday to allow the Public Utilities Commission to enter a two-year contract with […]

Lawmakers’ effort to bail out Maine’s six remaining biomass energy plants has shifted from a rescue subsidized by Maine electricity ratepayers to one subsidized by Maine taxpayers.

After a series of private negotiations, the Legislature’s Energy and Utilities Committee voted 10-2 late Thursday to allow the Public Utilities Commission to enter a two-year contract with ailing biomass generators. The contract would draw $13.4 million from the state’s rainy day fund to pay for above-market electricity costs, thereby erasing the projected impact on residential and commercial ratepayers.

The bill is designed to protect plants that have helped retain hundreds of logging and trucking jobs but are costly and inefficient, and are having trouble competing amid low oil and natural gas prices.

The new proposal is as controversial as the original, which would have affected utility ratepayers ranging from individual homeowners to large energy users such as Bath Iron Works and Sappi Paper. The large energy consumers are now spared from financing the bailout.

But the proposal effectively uses taxpayers’ money instead to support biomass plants that are owned by a multinational private investment firm worth an estimated $33 billion and another publicly traded market capital company that reported $1.6 billion in revenue last year.

From the Portland Press Herald: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/08/maine-biomass-bailout-would-tap-13-4-million-in-public-funds/

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