AUGUSTA — On Tuesday, the Legislature’s Taxation Committee unanimously approved legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to help small businesses hit the hardest by the electric rate increases. The measure is part of a suite of legislation put forward by Legislative Democrats that would provide direct rate relief, cut bureaucratic red tape for existing energy relief programs, and convene a stakeholder to develop strategies to rein in prices and prevent future sky-high increases.
“Mainers all across the state are still reeling from sky-high electric rates caused in part by the increase in natural gas. While we work on long-term strategies to lower costs, I’m hopeful that the checks in the supplemental budget will help working families offset increased prices. But we also need to do something for small businesses across the state that have been hit the hardest,” said President Jackson. “This credit is an attempt to help small businesses with high-energy usage, like convenience and grocery stores, afford to stay open and serve our rural communities. I’m grateful to the Taxation Committee for partnering with me on this effort.”
The amended legislation — LD 2010, An Act to Help Maine Residents with High Electricity Costs — would create a tiered credit of up to $3,000 for eligible small businesses that have been impacted by increases in the price of natural gas in its effect on the standard offer. The credit would be available to businesses that are considered “medium-general service” under the standard offer and have seen a significant increase in their electric bill.
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 have taken action to provide some relief to low-income Mainers. President Jackson introduced this tax credit to build on this effort by providing relief to small business owners.
LD 2010 will now go before the full Senate and House for initial votes.