AUGUSTA — Several initiatives by Gov. Paul LePage, including a proposal to use money from timber harvesting on state land to help low-income residents with heating costs, appear to be dead for this year, following action late Thursday by the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.

Besides the timber-harvesting bill, L.D. 1397, the committee voted not to endorse several late proposals from the governor that would have made sweeping changes in longstanding state energy policies meant to encourage renewable energy development and fund efficiency programs.

L.D. 1400, which would have repealed Maine’s renewable portfolio standard, a longstanding law that requires electricity suppliers to make up a percentage of their output from renewable generation and offers incentives to meet those goals, was shot down on a party-line vote by Democrats, 7-6

Another bill, L.D. 1399 which would have utilities provide a credit “backstop” to help large businesses expand natural gas pipeline capacity, also was voted down by the committee.

L.D. 1398, which would cut money for conservation programs by returning a larger share of revenue from a regional carbon credit auction will be carried over until next year.

LePage often cites lowering Maine’s high energy costs as a top priority for his administration. But by waiting until so late in the legislative session to bring out the controversial and complex measures, LePage all but doomed his ideas from getting careful consideration before lawmakers adjourn for the year.

LePage’s energy director, Patrick Woodcock, said after the votes that he hoped some elements of the governor’s proposals could be resurrected this year. He said the bills were introduced late because time was needed to refine the complicated issues.


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