Is Efficiency Maine Allowing Crooks to Steal from Electricity Rate Payers in Maine?

On Wednesday, the Associated Press ran a news item about a false truck bomb scare at the federal courthouse in Bangor. The story was picked up by MPBN today. A concerned citizen contacted police about an unfamiliar rental truck parked next to the courthouse. An investigation by local police found that the there was no bomb and that the truck was full of "light bulbs stacked on pallets" (MPBN story http://news.mpbn.net/post/bangor-police-low-price-light-bulbs-be-sold-chicago ).

Further investigation revealed that the bulbs were purchased in Maine with discounts subsidized by Efficiency Maine and were being transported to Chicago to be sold at market rate there. Efficiency Maine calls itself an "independent administrator for energy efficiency programs in Maine" but Efficiency Maine does not earn the money it spends on these programs.  

 

Much of the funding for Efficiency Maine comes from electricity rate payers.  A state law directs the Public Utilities Commission to govern the collection of what is currently 0.145 cents per kilowatt-hour from the electricity rate payers.  According to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), assessments for Efficiency Maine have been in excess of 10 million dollars per year (DSIRE http://dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=ME11R&re=0&ee=0 ).  

It is only a share of these funds that the entrepreneurial folk that were using the rental truck were aiming to grab. Efficiency Maine told a reporter that vendors are reimbursed for a maximum of 12 bulbs per purchaser, but we do not know how and by whom the bulbs in the truck were purchased.  What we do know now is that a quasi governmental agency is being defrauded.  While this agency is 2 steps removed from the state government and receives direct fiscal oversight by the state legislature, its generous funding is sure to be noticed by all kinds of people.  The scale of the fraud is unknown, but the electricity rate payer ultimately pays the price.


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