Utility required to re-examine wind deal in Maine

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 4, 2014 at 6:34 pm •  Published: March 4, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The state supreme court on Tuesday rejected a Maine Public Utilities Commission decision granting the joint venture between the Canadian utility Emera and renewable energy company First Wind.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that state regulators misinterpreted state law aimed at limiting business relationships between transmission and distribution companies like Emera, which owns the former Maine Public Service and Bangor Hydro companies, and power generation companies like Boston-based First Wind.

Writing for the court, Chief Justice Leigh Saufley said that a deal such as the one between Emera and First Wind should be rejected if the business relationship would lead to a financial interest that provided incentive for a transmission and distribution company to favor certain power generators.

The Public Utilities Commission must now re-examine the deal in which Nova Scotia-based Emera invested more than $300 million to have a 49 percent stake in First Wind's Northeast project portfolio.

First Wind, which has several wind generation projects in Maine, said it hopes to keep the Emera relationship intact.

"First Wind will work with Emera as the PUC determines the next steps. We remain committed to the joint venture with Emera, as it provides Maine and the Northeast with substantial benefits from development and continuing operation of new renewable energy assets," said First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne.

Emera officials had no immediate comment.

Maine's electric deregulation law required Bangor Hydro and Central Maine Power to sell off power generation assets. State law also restricts their involvement in power generation through affiliates.