Maine eyes panel to help corral rising energy costs

March 26, 2022 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine lawmakers are considering a proposal that would create an advisory council to try to prevent unaffordable utility rates.

Democratic Sen. Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic has proposed the creation of the council, which she has said would review utility rates and craft a plan to make sure residents of the state are able to afford energy bills. Supporters of the proposal have said the council would also review relief programs that assist seniors and others in paying for energy bills.

A committee of the Maine Legislature has voted in favor of the proposal. It would need the approval of the full Legislature.

The proposal is important in a time when “global fossil fuel markets, particularly for natural gas, are driving up electricity prices,” said Melissa Winne, testifying for the Governor’s Energy Office.

Maine has a heavier reliance on heating oil for home heating than most states, and that has long made the state vulnerable to volatile energy prices.