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Nearly every household in Maine pays the electric bill, which is roughly $80 per month. And that expense has a big impact on our low-income and middle-income households, as well as our elderly who are struggling to make it in this economy.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

The same is true with our heating and our gasoline bills. Oil prices have fallen more than 30 percent since the summer, and that means more than $1,000 stays in the pockets of Mainers this year. This is good news.

The decrease in oil prices will help those who are choosing between food, medicine and education with each paycheck – those who are working hard to make ends meet in our state.

But electricity prices are going in the wrong direction. This will affect our low-income households, as well as our employers who are providing jobs in our state. We must address our energy costs to attract more capital investment into modern factories and businesses.

I have said repeatedly, I support any source of energy that achieves that objective. The costs of renewable energy have come down, and I am hopeful that these costs will continue to fall so these technologies will be a part of making Maine more competitive.

However, right now, the easiest way to move forward with lower electric bills is to take advantage of our domestic natural gas resources to our west, as well as clean hydroelectricity to our north.

Other regions of our country are using competitively priced natural gas to attract businesses and keep electric bills low for families. We should do the same.

This week I will be meeting with the new Governor of Massachusetts, and I am hopeful he will join me in an effort to make our region more competitive.

If you don’t believe me, talk to your local small business about their electric bill. The electric bill for a small grocery store is going to increase from about $1,000 to $2,000 per month this winter. This is a hardship for our Maine employers and turns away investment in our state, as well as costs Mainers more for food.

We need a new direction on our energy policy in Maine and New England. We need a policy that lowers costs for our hardworking households, our elderly and our businesses. All of them are trying to get ahead in this economy, and these high costs are holding them back.

Energy costs can overwhelm household budgets and kill businesses. We are facing a crisis. The time for political rhetoric is over. I hope the legislature is ready to take action and get these energy costs under control.

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