News Updates

High Court Breaks Up Wind Partnership
03/06/2014 - 10:21am

Leigh Saufley photo from Maine State Judicial Branch website.On March 4, 2014, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court overruled a 2012 approval by the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of an affiliation deal between wind developer First Wind, the utility companies called at the time Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service and their present parent company, Nova Scotia-based Emera, Inc.

Appeals to the approval of the $361 million loans and investment deal were made by the state Public Advocate, the Houlton Water Company and the Industrial Energy Consumers’ Group.

Writing for the court, Chief Justice Leigh Saufley said,“If the relationship among the entities results in the T&D (transmission and distribution) utility having a financial interest that would provide an incentive to favor certain generators over others, the proposed corporate restructuring is prohibited… [by the Restructuring Act of 1997]."

Read the full story from the Pinetree Watchdog.

Photo credit: Leigh Saufley photo from Maine State Judicial Branch website. 

Fossil Fuel Prices Skyrocket
01/29/2014 - 1:22pm

Forking over the cash for high fuel prices image credit Kay MannA trio of headlines this week point to an unaffordable future for fossil energy. Firstly, in the coldest week of winter, prices of both kerosene and home heating oil jumped 7 cents per gallon, while propane (in short supply) jumped 10 cents per gallon. Read more in Mainebiz.

Next, the great hope of cheap natural gas is cracking around the edges as the Augusta Civic Center discovered after having a natural gas pipeline extended there, that several of its propane boilers cannot be converted to burn natural gas and must be replaced at a cost of $150-250K. Read more in Mainebiz.

Meanwhile, Unitil has asked the Public Utilities Commission to permit it to hike rates by 10.4% to cover higher-than-expected commodities costs for natural gas. If approved, this would narrow the margin of savings down to 8% (over last year) for customers who converted from oil to gas. Read more in Mainebiz.

Image credit: Kay Mann

Public Utilities Commission Approves Maine Aqua Ventus Term Sheet
01/16/2014 - 1:43pm

VolturnUS the first grid-tied floating wind turbine in the US designed by the University of Maine Engineering Department and licensed to Maine Aqua Ventus photo courtesy of University of Maine.By a vote of 2-1 on January 15, 2014, the Maine Public Utilities Commission approved the terms of an agreement between the State and Maine Aqua Ventus, a coalition led by the University of Maine to develop a 500 MW deepwater, floating wind power plant in the Gulf of Maine. The rate agreed upon was 23 cents per killowatt hour, which would raise the average Maine ratepayer's bill by less than $9 per year and have beneficial repercussions throughout Maine's economy.

The approval was a key hurdle in UMaine's quest to win a $50 million federal energy grant in May to further develop the project. Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Photo credit: VolturnUS floating wind turbine designed by the University of Maine Engineering Department and licensed to Maine Aqua Ventus; photo courtesy of University of Maine.

Bath Students Embrace PowerHouse
01/14/2014 - 4:24pm

Powerhouse program partners courtesy of Gulf of Maine Research InstituteEighth Grade Students at Bath Middle School have not only embraced the PowerHouse program from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, but taken it a step further by creating public service announcements encouraging energy conservation.

Read the full blog article here.

Image credit: Powerhouse program partners courtesy of Gulf of Maine Research Institute.

Breathing Easier With Biodiesel
01/14/2014 - 3:24pm

Maine Standard Biofuels delivery truck photo courtesy of Maine Standard Biofuels In November 2013, The Northeast Diesel Collaborative – a partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state agencies, and private and nonprofit groups – recognized Oakhurst Dairy and Maine Standard Biofuels with its 2013 Breathe Easy Leadership Award for their outstanding leadership in reducing diesel emissions. Maine Standard Biofuels makes biodiesel fuel from waste vegetable oils and delivers it to Oakhurst Dairy to fuel its delivery fleet. As a result of this partnership, Oakhurst has decreased its diesel fuel emissions up to 70 percent annually.

Read more from the EPA. Photo courtesy of Maine Standard Biofuels.

Multifamily Milestone: 1000 Buildings Weatherized
01/14/2014 - 12:10pm

Blower door testing units on a multifamily house in Maine by DeWitt Kimball of Complete Home Energy Evaluation ServicesOn January 2, 2014, Efficiency Maine’s Multifamily Efficiency Program announced that it had reached a milestone in December: since its launch 18 months ago, the program has helped property managers weatherize more than 1,000 apartment units throughout the state. One thousand more units are already in the pipeline to be weatherized in the year ahead. Average energy savings is predicted to be 26%.

Read it all on Efficiency Maine's website…and learn about the program here.

Photo Credit: DeWitt Kimball of Complete Home Evaluation Services.

Maine Company Tapped for Cape Wind Construction
01/09/2014 - 5:18pm

Siemens press picture of Anholt offshore wind power plant in Denmark.An important subcontract for work on the Cape Wind project off Massachusetts has been awarded to Cianbro of Brewer, Maine. Siemens will supply Cape Wind its 3.6-MW offshore wind turbines and an offshore Electric Service Platform (ESP), located toward the center of the site to transform the voltage of the electricity produced by the wind turbines.

Siemens is subcontracting the manufacturing of the ESP to Cianbro, to be fabricated in its Brewer facility. Read the full story on Siemens website.

Photo credit: Siemens press picture: Anholt offshore wind power plant in Denmark.

Portland-Auburn Commuter Rail Line Proposed
11/25/2013 - 2:34pm

Rail image courtesy of Maine Rail Transit CoalitionThe Maine Rail Transit Coalition is proposing a commuter rail line between Auburn and India Street in Portland, with an estimated $138 million startup cost. Pending procurement of funding, the service would operate on a freight line now owned by the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad, on which it wants to discontinue service.

Read more in the Portland Press Herald and in Mainebiz.

Rockland to Boston via Rail in 2014
11/17/2013 - 5:38pm

Map of the Maine Eastern Railroad line from Rockland to Brunswick Maine image courtesy of Maine Eastern RailroadMaine Eastern Railroad announced on October 30, 2013 that it plans to capitalize on increased Downeaster train ridership by aligning its summer 2014 schedule with the Downeaster's so that passengers from Rockland to Brunswick will also be able to travel to Boston by rail. Rates will be reduced for the train, which will run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between July 4 and Oct. 13.

Read more in Mainebiz and from Maine Eastern RailroadImage courtesy of Maine Eastern Railroad. 

Electricity Disconnection Scam Warning
11/14/2013 - 4:38pm

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC), the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA), and Maine’s Attorney General are warning Mainers of a nationwide scam involving the threat of disconnection of their electric service. The scam involves telephone callers claiming to be from a utility company and then employing a variety of techniques to defraud customers. Some threaten customers with disconnecting electric service to their home or business if they don’t make a payment immediately. The scam artist instructs them to send money via prepaid card or online payment service, such as PayPal or GreenDot, before their power is shut off... Read more from the PUC.