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Emera’s New England wind farms face another legal challenge

Emera Inc.’s plan to invest in New England wind farms is facing another court challenge in Maine.

Two groups, including a municipal water utility and industrial customers, have asked the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to review a recent decision by the state regulator.

That ruling approved Emera’s partnership with First Wind Holdings of Boston and Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. of Oakville, Ont.

“We respect the appeal process and will co-operate fully,” Emera spokeswoman Dina Bartolacci Seely said Wednesday. “We are optimistic that a positive outcome will be reached.”

In an Oct. 9 decision, the Maine Public Utilities Commission upheld its 2012 approval of Emera’s proposed wind investments in the region. The regulator had to rehear the case after the water utility and other groups were successful in a previous court challenge.

The legal battle centres around whether Emera’s investment would contravene a state law that prohibits ownership of transmission-and-distribution utilities and generating plants.

Emera Maine is an electricity distribution business. The Halifax parent company has invested $225 million in Northeast Wind, a joint venture with First Wind that will own and develop wind farms in the United States northeast, including Maine.

Emera’s investment is also tied to its increased stake in Algonquin, another renewable energy player in the region. Emera has a 25 per cent interest in the Oakville, Ont., firm.

Emera also owns Nova Scotia Power and electric utilities in the Caribbean.