Posted: April 16, 2014 | Senator Jackson, Senator Vitelli

Measure would have provided rebates for heat pumps and solar panels

AUGUSTA–In a 22-13 vote, the Senate Republicans sustained Governor LePage’s veto of a bill that would have provided rebates for solar panels and heat pumps for low-income Mainers. Overriding a veto requires two-thirds, or 24 Senate votes.

The Senate originally supported the measure in a vote of 22-12. Republican Senator Ron Collins initially supported the bill then flipped his vote and supported Governor LePage’s veto.

“This bill would have created jobs in an emerging industry and helped low-income Mainers heat their homes,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “Why would you oppose jobs for Maine, or assistance for the elderly and low-income Mainers struggling to pay their oil bills? It’s disappointing Governor LePage’s veto spree has once again hurt our economy and hurt some of our most vulnerable neighbors.”

The measure would have reestablished the solar rebate program under Efficiency Maine and helped Mainers install more than 1,250 new solar panels and heat pumps at Maine homes and businesses.

Maine spends $5 billion per year importing fossil fuels and is the most petroleum-dependent state for home heating, with more than 70% of households using it as their primary heating source.

According to a 2010 report, rooftop solar panels alone could provide 24% of Maine’s electricity.

“The sun is the most abundant energy source on the planet and we would do well to take advantage of it,” said Democratic Senator Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic.

The bill received broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate and the House overrode the veto of the bill with a vote of 105—41.

With a total of 133 vetoes during his tenure, Governor LePage has exceeded the number of vetoes by any other Governor, including the previous record holder, one-term Governor Jim Longley with 118 vetoes.

The bill, LD 1252, “An Act To Improve Maine’s Economy and Energy Security with Solar and Wind Energy,” is now dead.