By Ramona du Houx
Rep. Robert Saucier has introduced legislation to ensure that Aroostook and Washington counties benefit from reduced power rates for Maine’s largest manufacturers.
Earlier this year, the Legislature passed Public Law 498 with the intent of providing $3 million of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Trust Fund revenue to Maine’s largest employers that are manufacturers. Regulators recently have ruled the program is limited to the ISO-New England Grid. Aroostook and Washington Counties are connected to the Northern Maine Independent System Administrator grid Saucier agured that these Counties should be able to access RGGI trust funds..
“We are as much a part of Maine as any other county and in fact have been hit harder and for longer by the recession than other parts of the state,” said Saucier, of Presque Isle. “Whether it is through this program or another, our area should not be excluded from reduced power rates that help other Maine businesses compete at the state and national level. Aroostook County is home to a number of manufacturers who contribute greatly to the economic health of our region. That is why I am introducing legislation to re-open the conversation on this decision.”
To date RGGI has brought in $79,566,813.5 5 to the state for weatherization and alternative energy projects, for businesses and homes. RGGI is the first mandatory market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the most recent auction RGGI earned the state over $2.2million. The funds are distributed through the trust fund.
Aroostook County is home to McCain Foods, one of the largest frozen potato operations on the east coast, employing more than 500 employees. They issued a statement in May stating they should be included in the program.
“I will be working closely with Rep. Saucier on his legislation to correct this,” said Rep Alley, from Beals. “It is frustrating that we would be left out of a program that would bring much-needed economic relief to our area. We need to see to it that businesses in Washington County can get the help they need to lower their energy costs.”
Saucier is serving his second term in the Maine Legislature and represents part of Presque Isle.
Alley is serving his first term in the Maine House and represents Addison, Beals, Cherryfield, Columbia, Columbia Falls, Harrington, Jonesboro, Jonesport, Marshfield, Milbridge and Whitneyville.