Planned wind projects in Maine could be cancelled
For Immediate Release
An ambitious bill written by the utility and wind power lobby was unanimously killed yesterday in Augusta by a legislative committee.
LD 1513 would have undone an established law that protects ratepayers from large companies seeking to control the market for electricity generation and transmission. Transmission utilities like Central Maine Power Company and Emera Maine were prohibited from owning generation plants when the Restructuring Act was passed 16 years ago.
In the last three years utilities and wind generators have brought controversial cases to the Maine Public Utilities Commission and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, because the companies sought to do enter "affiliated interest" relationships, in which companies held by joint ownership sought to partner on generation projects requiring expensive transmission expenditures for delivery of the power. Friends of Maine's Mountains (FMM) has opposed all of these attempts because power producing companies have an incentive to build generators in remote areas far from population centers, while utilities that are essentially sister companies have an incentive to build transmission lines hundreds of miles long. FMM convinced the legislature that this market control is bad for ratepayers, and especially bad for mountains that have been targeted by wind development.
LD 1513 was written by Central Maine Power, it's parent company Iberdrola, an affiliated company called Iberdrola Renewables, America's second largest wind developer. Emera Maine assisted. A consortium of LD 1513 opponents led by FMM included Anthony Buxton of the Independent Energy Consumer Group and Ben Smith of Houlton Water Company. Opponents provided forceful and compelling testimony both at a February public hearing and a March 8 work session. See FMM's testimony here.
Chris O'Neil, FMM's Director of Government Affairs said: "After several language revisions and attempted amendments, the Committee finally said, 'No way. We don't need or want the sort of market dominance that LD 1513 enables.' We are pleased that Maine's ratepayers and environment won a big one yesterday."
FMM has welcomed recent reports that wind developers are losing interest in Maine. O'Neil added that this defeat should send a message to policymakers in southern New England. "We were astonished a few weeks ago to learn that 51 renewable energy projects are being considered in an RFP process, and that many of those projects would have catastrophic consequences for Maine, all to provide insignificant amounts of expensive electricity to meet arbitrary requirements" in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. "Now, with defeat of LD 1513" O'Neil said, "some of those projects are less likely to be completed or even proposed, and we in Maine couldn't be happier if killing this bill also kills those horrible projects under consideration in the RFP."
Contact Chris O'Neil (207) 590-3842 firstname.lastname@example.org