Regulators OK Emera investment in First Wind

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 22, 2014 at 2:28 pm •  Published: July 22, 2014
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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Using new guidance from the state supreme court, Maine utility regulators on Tuesday approved for a second time a deal that gave Canadian utility Emera a stake in First Wind, the state's largest wind developer.

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

Maine law restricts relationships between transmission companies, like Emera, and power producers, like First Wind, to prevent favoritism of one power producer over another on the grid. But the commission decided Tuesday that the deal passes muster, even under new guidance provided by the supreme court.

Tim Schneider, Maine public advocate, said he was pleased to see that the commission provided guidance in its new decision as to what's permissible when it comes to such a relationship.

But the PUC decision could still be subject to further litigation.

The landscape has changed since the days when electric deregulation became law in Maine, requiring Bangor Hydro and Central Maine Power to sell off their power generation assets. Now Bangor Hydro is Emera Maine and a subsidiary of Emera. CMP also is owned by a bigger company with substantial holdings, including stakes in renewable energy.

In its March decision, the state supreme court didn't rule out business relationships between a power producer and a transmission and distribution company. But it said it should be rejected if a financial interest provides incentive for a transmission and distribution company to favor certain power generators.