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Energy News Roundup: April 2-April 8

This week in regional energy news …


Tom Welch Confirmed as Newest Maine PUC Commissioner

Today, the Maine Senate confirmed Tom Welch as commissioner of the Maine PUC.  Welch will take over the seat of Commissioner Jack Cashman, who will vacate the position he has held since 2008. 

Yesterday, the Utilities and Energy Committee unanimously recommended Welch’s confirmation.  Welch previously served as a PUC commissioner from 1993 to 2005.

See our announcement of Governor LePage’s nomination of Tom Welch here.


Energy News Roundup: March 26-April 1

This week in regional energy news …


ISO New England Preliminary Forecast Predicts Continued Growth 

ISO New England’s preliminary 2011 long-term load forecast suggests that economic recovery is starting in New England.  Electricity demand is an indicator of economic health, and ISO New England reports that New England demand grew in 2010.  Moreover, ISO New England’s preliminary projections for 2011 through 2020 predict modest growth in demand in New England.  The preliminary energy forecast for the 2011-2020 period is for a compound annual growth rate of 1.1%, from about 135,460 gigawatt-hours (GWh) this year to 149,150 GWh in 2020.   Adjusted for factors such as energy efficiency, energy is forecasted to grow about 0.8% annually, from 131,130 GWh this year to 140,980 GWh in 2020.

Peak demand (the most amount of electricity used in a single hour in New England) is projected to grow by about 1.4% per year, from a forecasted peak of 27,550 megawatts (MW) this year to about 31,215 MW in 2020.  Adjusted for factors such as energy efficiency, peak demand is forecasted to grow about 1.2% annually, from 26,766 MW this year to 29,917 MW in 2020.


Maine Supreme Court Denies Appeals in Record Hill and Oakfield Wind Power Projects 

The Maine Supreme Court issued two opinions Thursday rejecting appeals of permits issued for the development of the Record Hill Wind project in Roxbury, Maine, and the Oakfield wind power project in Oakfield, Maine.  Today’s opinions upholding the Maine Board of Environmental Protection’s approval of both projects mean that the projects’ permits are now final and non-appealable. 

The Court unanimously affirmed the Board of Environmental Protection’s determination that both wind power projects comply with all relevant permitting standards, including the state’s strictest sound limits.  The opponents had claimed that the Board was required to have held a public hearing, should have found that the projects would result in adverse health effects and didn’t satisfy standards related to decommissioning and financial capacity.  The Court disagreed, rejecting all of the opponents’ arguments.

Writing for the Court in Concerned Citizens to Save Roxbury et al. v. Board of Environmental Protection et al. (click to open PDF), Justice Ellen Gorman found that, with respect to the Record Hill Wind project, “the Board’s findings concerning the health effects of wind turbine noise are supported by substantial evidence in the record. The report of the [Maine Center for Disease Control] and the [Department of Environmental Protection’s] noise control consultant’s opinion both support the finding that the Record Hill Wind Project will not generate unreasonable adverse health effects.” 

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MPUC Clarifies Standards for Interconnection of Small Generators

In response to two complaints, the Maine Public Utilities Commission has issued an order clarifying Chapter 324, Small Generator Interconnection Procedures.  Chapter 324 was created to provide uniform standards for the connection of small generators to the electric grid in Maine as a result of increased interest in distributed generation.   The standards in Chapter 324 are an attempt to reduce transaction costs for small generators, allocate interconnection costs between the generator and the utility, set certain technical standards and create predictable outcomes.   

The Commission’s March 16, 2011 Order Regarding Implementation of Interconnection Rules (Ch. 324) clarifies that utilities must provide a “detailed engineering analysis” to an interconnecting customer, so that the customer has a clear understanding of what electrical upgrades may be needed to accommodate the generator before the generator is charged with the costs of upgrades.  In some circumstances, the customer must also be advised of the customer’s right to bring a dispute to the Commission for resolution pursuant to Chapter 324.


Maine Street Solutions Annouces Joint Venture with Eaton River Strategies, LLC

Maine Street Solutions is pleased to announce a joint venture with Kathie Summers-Grice as President of Eaton River Strategies.  Kathie brings many years of political and policy experience throughout New England and the country.  Already, Kathie has helped many of our clients forge new relationships and identify new strategies to achieve success.