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Governor Nominates Thomas Welch to Be MPUC Commissioner

March 15, 2010, Governor LePage nominated Tom Welch to serve as Commissioner of the Maine Public Utilities Commission to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Commissioner Jack Cashman.  If confirmed, Mr. Welch would be appointed to a six-year term expiring in March 2017.

Mr. Welch served as Chair of the MPUC from 1993 to 2005, where he played a leading role in the restructuring of the Maine electric utility industry and the adoption of incentive regulation for Verizon.  Since leaving the MPUC, he worked briefly for PJM Interconnection, a Pennsylvania-based RTO, and has for the past five years been in private practice in Maine, specializing in energy and utility law.  During that time, he frequently represented Central Maine Power Company in proceedings before the Maine Commission.

Prior to moving to Maine in 1993, Mr. Welch served as Chief Deputy Attorney General for Antitrust in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, in-house counsel for Bell Atlantic, and Assistant Professor at Villanova University School of Law.

Mr. Welch is a 1972 graduate of Stanford University.  He received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1975.


MPUC Adopts Standard Form PPA for Community-Based Renewable Energy Pilot Program

The Maine Public Utilities Commission has adopted a standard form contract for the purchase of energy, capacity resources and renewable energy credits under the MPUC’s Community-Based Renewable Energy Pilot Program.  The Pilot Program provides incentives for the development of locally-owned, community based renewable energy projects.  If qualified for the program, the renewable facility has the option of selecting either a renewable energy credit multiplier or a  long-term contract with a transmission and distribution utility for the sale of facility’s output.  A copy of the standard form contract may be found here.


Energy News Roundup: March 5-March 11

This week in regional energy news …


ISO New England Reminds Market Participants to Make Daylight Savings Time Adjustments

ISO New England has announced that market participants will need to make adjustments on the ISO New England eMarket applications for Sunday, March 13, 2011, the day that Daylight Savings Time takes effect.

According to ISO New England, to accommodate Daylight Savings Time, the eMarket application, where energy and capacity bids and offers are submitted, will have no Hour 03 on Sunday, March 13.  Also, the Settlement Management System, used for internal transactions and meter readings, and the Enhanced Energy Scheduler, used for external transactions, will have no Hour 02.  Consequently, customers who upload files to applications for the March 13 operating day should not include those hours.  Customers who use the Market User Interface will not have to make any adjustments because those hours will not be available for data entry.


2011 New England Regional and State Profiles Published by ISO-NE

ISO New England has updated its electric system profiles of each state in New England and the region. The ISO New England profiles include both regional and state-by-state information on the power system and wholesale electricity markets.  The profiles include information on demand growth rates, generating resources and fuel mix, proposals for new resources, demand and price response, wholesale market prices, renewable portfolio standards, and transmission development.

ISO New England provides these profiles as information for legislators, regulators, and industry representatives. ISO New England updates the profiles annually based on data from the Regional System Plan, Annual Markets Report, Forward Capacity Market results, and other publicly-available information.  The profiles are posted on the Key Facts page of the ISO website.


BEP Denies Appeal of DEP Permit for Wind Power Project 

The Maine Board of Environmental Protection has rejected an appeal by the Friends of Spruce Mountain of the permit for a 10-turbine wind power project in Oxford County.  The Maine Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit to Massachusetts-based Patriot Renewables for a 20-megawatt wind power project along the Spruce Mountain ridgeline in Woodstock, Maine last October.  The Friends of Spruce Mountain, a local citizens’ group, opposed the project, raising concerns about low-frequency noise and the project’s proximity to homes, and subsequently appealed the DEP’s permit.  The BEP voted down the appeal 5-1.  

Verrill Dana attorney Gordon Smith represented Patriot Renewables in the BEP appeal.  Smith said that a conservative scientific model was used to predict noise levels and that the project will comply with the DEP’s most stringent noise limits.  Moreover, the DEP order included a requirement that Patriot Renewables collect noise data at permanently-established sites and operate a toll-free complaint hot line so that residents can report loud turbine noise.  If the DEP finds that the project is exceeding noise limits, Patriot must immediately reduce the noise levels of the turbines.

Quincy-based Patriot Renewables has proposed four wind projects in western Maine, including a 12-turbine wind farm on Saddleback Mountain in Carthage, which Franklin County commissioners voted earlier this week to support.


Energy News Roundup: January 22-January 28

This week in regional energy news …