AUGUSTA — On Monday, Governor Janet Mills signed into law legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to help small businesses hit the hardest by electric rate increases. The new law is part of a suite of laws put forward by Legislative Democrats to provide direct rate relief, cut bureaucratic red tape for existing energy relief programs, and convene a stakeholder group to rein in prices and prevent outrageous increases in the future.
“It’s no secret that Maine families and small businesses have been hit hard by the recent increase in electric rates, driven by the price of natural gas. It’s why my colleagues and I worked quickly to put together and pass a targeted relief plan to help folks get by. This new law will help eligible businesses with high-energy burdens, like our locally-owned grocery and convenience stores, keep the lights on, the doors open and the refrigerators running,” said President Jackson. “I’m so grateful to Governor Mills and her administration for partnering with me on legislation to make this credit program possible.”
“Rising energy costs have made it difficult for small businesses to fully benefit from Maine’s strong economic recovery. That’s why I directed the Department of Economic and Community Development to work closely with President Jackson on crafting this legislation to deliver meaningful relief without taxpayer dollars,” said Governor Mills. “I am pleased to sign this bill into law to build on the more than $278 million that my Administration has delivered to Maine businesses and nonprofits so far. We will continue to do all we can to support Maine’s small businesses as they grapple with these increased costs.”
The new law — LD 2010, An Act to Help Maine Residents with High Electricity Costs — creates a tiered credit for eligible small businesses and organizations that have been impacted by increases in electricity costs caused by the spike in the price of natural gas and its effect on the standard offer. The credit will be available to businesses that are considered “medium-general service” customers and have seen significant increases in their electric bills. The tiered credit could be worth as much as $3,000 depending on an individual business’s energy usage.
At the start of the year, many Maine electricity consumers experienced a sharp increase in their supply rate due to the high price of natural gas. The Public Advocate and the Mills Administration took immediate steps to provide relief to low-income Mainers. With LD 2010, President Jackson partnered with the Mills Administration’s Department of Economic and Community Development to build on these efforts by providing direct relief to eligible small businesses with high-energy burdens.
Details on the distribution of the credit will be announced by the Department of Economic and Community Development in the coming months.