Maine upholds Emera ruling; State commission reaffirms company can invest in New England wind projects
Emera Inc. has again received the Maine state regulator’s blessing to invest in New England wind farms.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission decided Thursday to uphold a previous approval of the Halifax-based energy company’s investments in Northeast Wind Partners and Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp.
“The (commission’s) approval allows us to continue to invest in existing and developing clean energy projects in Maine,” Chris Huskilson, Emera president and CEO, said in a news release Friday.
Northeast Wind, a joint venture by Emera and First Wind Holdings of Boston, owns and operates nine wind farms in Maine, New York and Vermont. The partnership, in which Emera has invested $225 million for a 49 per cent stake, also plans to develop more wind projects.
The ruling also allows Emera, Nova Scotia Power’s parent company, to keep its 25 per cent interest in Algonquin Power. The firm, based out of Oakville, Ont., owns electricity generating facilities and other utilities in Canada and the United States, including Maine.
The state regulator originally approved Emera’s plan to get involved in renewable energy generation in the U.S. northeast two years ago. But the decision was appealed by a municipal water utility and customer representatives on the grounds that it contravened a state law that prohibits ownership of transmission-and-distribution utilities and generating facilities.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court quashed the commission’s first ruling in March and sent the case back to be heard again.
The court found that while state law governing a competitive electricity market didn’t prohibit a parent company from owning distribution assets and generating and transmission, the commission didn’t properly interpret the legislation.
In Thursday’s decision, the commission upheld its view that Emera’s investment won’t reduce competition in the generation market, and that conditions attached to the approval protect ratepayers.
Emera Maine, a subsidiary of the Halifax-based energy company, is a transmission and generation business.
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