- Associated Press - Friday, April 15, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - The Latest on the Legislature’s vote on the $13 million bailout for the biomass industry (all times local):

7 p.m.

The Maine Legislature has endorsed a plan to use $13 million in taxpayer money to bail out Maine’s collapsing biomass industry.

The Senate voted 25-9 and the House voted 104-40 on Friday to pass a bill that critics view as corporate welfare but supporters argue will save 1,000 logging jobs in hard-hit rural Maine.

Loggers say their jobs are threatened by the potential shutdown of biomass plants that are struggling to compete amid low oil and natural gas prices.



The bill gives $13 million to the Public Utilities Commission to buy electricity at above-market cost from four troubled biomass plants.

Supporters described the bill as a “bridge” that protects the jobs of hardworking loggers until the energy market for biomass rebounds. Opponents said the market may never recover.

___

4:10 p.m.

A bill that would use more than $13 million in taxpayer money to bail out Maine’s collapsing biomass industry is winning support in the Senate.

The Senate on Friday voted 25-9 to pass the bill and send it to the House. Lawmakers said the bill would save logging jobs threatened by the potential shutdown of biomass plants that are struggling to compete amid low oil and natural gas prices.

The bill would allow the Public Utilities Commission to use $13 million from the state’s rainy-day fund to enter a two-year contract to buy electricity at above-market cost from four troubled plants.

Supporters described the bill as a “bridge” that protects the jobs of hardworking loggers until the energy market for biomass rebounds. Opponents said the market may never recover.

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