If Efficiency Maine Trust gets more money, it needs more accountability
Augusta – This morning, House Republicans honored an agreement made with our Democrat colleagues despite the fact that they have failed yet to live up to their end. House Republican Leader Ken Fredette and nearly the entire caucus voted to fix a typo and restore roughly $38 million in Efficiency Maine Trust funding.
Rep. Fredette has submitted legislation that would have restored the funding cap but would also provide some accountability for the roughly $70 million in Maine ratepayer money that Efficiency Maine Trust spends annually.
Rep Fredette’s bill would:
• Creates and elevates the Office of Energy Director to a cabinet level position with an accompanying deputy commissioner position to be funded by $300,000 from the Efficiency Maine Trust. This portion of the bill raises the importance of energy here in Maine, regionally and nationally.
• The executive director of Efficiency Maine Trust would become a nominee of the governor, reviewed by the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee and confirmed by the Maine Senate. This provision is done with the understanding that the Michael Stoddard, the current executive director at Efficiency Maine Trust will be recommended for this position.
• The executive director of Efficiency Maine Trust would have a reporting line to the Maine energy commissioner. This is consistent with many of our boards and commissions.
“While I support the mission of the Efficiency Maine Trust, there needs to be some legislative accountability when we’re talking about that much ratepayer money,” Rep. Fredette said. “That is why I submitted my bill. I believe Republicans stood up for a process of integrity in supporting the fix on the Omnibus Energy bill with their vote today in the Maine House. We now put our faith in the bipartisan Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee to pass out equally important legislation in providing appropriate oversight for nearly $70 million of ratepayer money and elevating the Governor’s Energy Office to a commissioner level office.”
Currently, the Executive Director at Efficiency Maine Trust who will be controlling the up to $60 million in electric energy efficiency investments is not subject to nomination by the Chief Executive or subject to confirmation by the Legislature. Instead, an unelected volunteer board chooses the individual and reports to them. There is no accountability whatsoever over where these funds go. We’re hearing from small business owners who are being told there is no money available in Efficiency Maine Trust while larger corporations are getting millions of dollars. We have now way of determining whether this money is being distributed in a fair manner. This is inconsistent with the model that we have across our boards from the Maine Technology Institute, the Finance Authority of Maine, and Maine State Housing. When we entrust this level of resources in any agency we need a commensurate level of accountability.
“Instead of being concerned with who gets credit for giving Efficiency Maine millions of dollars more, I want to make sure these funds are being distributed appropriately and fairly,” Rep. Fredette said.