A proposal by First Wind and Canadian utility Emera to partner with a third energy company to build and operate energy projects in the Northeast is in danger of being rejected by Maine regulators.
The staff of the Maine Public Utilities Commission has recommended commissioners oppose the deal, saying the risk to the ratepayers exceeds the benefits, according to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. As proposed, the partnership would bring together Massachusetts-based First Wind, Halifax, Nova Scotia-based Emera — which owns Bangor Hydro Electric Co. and Maine & Maritimes Corp. — and Ontario-based Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. They would jointly own and operate First Wind’s 370-megawatt wind farm portfolio, and through a joint venture called Northeast Wind, would pump $333 million into First Wind.
The deal, however, raised questions over whether it violates the state’s so-called deregulation, or the Electric Restructuring Act passed in 2000, which prohibits utilities from owning both transmission and generation. The PUC staff, however, said the deal would not violate the act, but that it could lead to “preferential treatment by a utility to its competitive affiliates,” as well as higher prices. Commissioners are scheduled to review the staff recommendation on Jan. 31.
This is a corrected version of an earlier item.