Electricity Assistance Bill Signed Into Law
As inflation rises, it’s getting harder to meet some of our basic needs. Trips to the grocery store are breaking the bank. Home heating costs are out of control. Gas prices are at their highest since the 2008 recession. And the cost of electric power is skyrocketing in response to ongoing supply issues with natural gas, exacerbated by the ongoing war in Ukraine. Many have seen their monthly energy bills jump by hundreds of dollars.
When it comes to electricity, however, Mainers will soon receive a helping hand.
LD 1913, “An Act To Review Strategies for Improving Utility Rate Affordability and To Provide Utility Relief,” directs the Public Utilities Commission to create a relief program to help seniors and other struggling Mainers pay for their energy bills, including bills from this past winter, and any late fees that might have accrued. To ensure that these relief funds work for as long as possible, the Public Utilities Commission will establish, alongside Efficiency Maine, an education program regarding energy-efficient upgrades and applying for other financial relief programs. The bill also directs the Public Advocate to create a commission of stakeholders to review utility rates and come up with a plan to ensure that Maine people will be able to afford their energy bills as the state modernizes its electric grid and moves toward energy independence.
“Many Mainers saw their electric bills nearly double this winter, hitting working and retired Mainers, their families and small businesses hard,” said Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, who introduced the bill in January. “This bill is designed to give Mainers a louder voice in the conversation about energy rates to make sure we’re considering any and all options that help people keep the lights on.”
We’re happy to report that LD 1913 was signed into law by Governor Mills yesterday. Because it’s an emergency measure, it will go into effect immediately. Mainers for Working Families thanks Senator Vitelli, the Maine Legislature, and Governor Mills for taking this important action to keep electricity affordable for all Mainers. Times may be tough, but with our leaders in Augusta taking action to lighten the load, we will come out of this period stronger than ever.