Maine’s binary choice: achieve climate action goals or try to create “Consumer Owned Utility”

Well deserved outrage over the abysmal performance and poor customer service of Maine’s two investor-owned utilities (IOUs) has spawned an initiative to replace them with a “consumer owned utility” (COU), called Pine Tree Power. Possibly during the next week the Maine Legislature will vote on LD1708, a bill that puts the acquisition of those IOUs by the State to a public referendum. Pursuit of a COU poses a direct threat to the timely implementation of Maine’s climate action goals as well as modernization of its electricity distribution grid. That this initiative and another to block the construction of a transmission […]

The Clean Energy Corridor Clarified

You have seen the signs and the TV ads literally littering Maine regarding the New England Clean Energy Corridor (NECEC), aka the CMP transmission line from Quebec to just above Lewiston. Some oppose and others support. No doubt when people go to vote in May they will be approached by advocates and opponents of the line. While the following goes into great detail about the Corridor, the bottom line to voters is simply this: building the Corridor requires a tradeoff, the loss of 53 miles of a 115-foot swatch of commercially harvested forest, for at least a 10% reduction in […]

Evaluation of Costs and Benefits of Combining CMP and Emera into the Maine Power Delivery Authority – a Summary

Last spring a bill (LD 1646) was presented in the Maine Legislature that sought to acquire the assets of Central Maine Power and Emera (Maine’s investor owned utilities – IOUs) in order to create the Maine Power Delivery Authority (MPDA), a quasi-governmental “consumer owned” transmission and distribution utility. (See blog article of May 14, 2019, “Maine wants to create a Power Authority: a bad idea”). The bill was held pending completion of an assessment of the costs and benefits of such an action, to be performed by a third party.  That assessment was released on February 14 and is summarized […]

Maine wants to take over its investor owned utilities: a bad idea

The following is testimony offered in opposition to Maine Bill LD 1646 “An Act To Restore Local Ownership and Control of Maine’s Power Delivery Systems.” This bill creates the Maine Power Delivery Authority by acquiring and operating all transmission and distribution systems in the State currently operated by the investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities known as Central Maine Power Company and Emera Maine. Senator Lawrence, Representative Berry, members of the Joint Committee, my name is Gerry Runte. I am a constituent of Senator Lawrence and live in York.  Thank you for the opportunity to testify today in opposition to LD […]

Maine wants to promote beneficial electrification – it needs a regulatory reform roadmap

Note: the following is testimony regarding LD 1464 “An Act To Support Electrification of Certain Technologies for the Benefit of Maine Consumers and Utility Systems and the Environment” in the Maine Legislature. The Act would require the Efficiency Maine Trust to conduct a study regarding the barriers to beneficial electrification of the transportation and heating sectors in the State; and require the Public Utilities Commission to issue a request for proposals from utilities and entities that are not utilities to conduct a pilot program to support beneficial electrification of the transportation sector of the State. Senator Lawrence, Representative Berry, members […]

It’s Time for a Nonwires Alternative Coordinator for Maine

In 2009 Maine passed its Smart Grid Policy Act. One of its many provisions not implemented was the creation of a Nonwires Alternative Coordinator within the Public Utilities Commission. In 2017 the PUC chose to put this responsibility with the utilites themselves and asked them how they would do it. They have not yet answered. The following is testimony given in support of LD 1181, An Act to Reduce Electricity Costs Through Nonwires Alternatives, which would require the Coordinator be established immediately, but places the function within the Public Advocate’s office. March 27, 2019 Senator Lawrence, Representative Berry, members of […]

Climate Change Has Not Been Entirely Erased From US Government Priorities

The current administration has done its best to erase and ignore climate change as a growing threat to our economic and physical security. The topic has been removed from the EPA and other agency websites, as well as from the summary of the current National Defense Strategy (actual document is classified). Thus far, though, there is one holdout in government – the intelligence community. On February 13 the Senate select Committee on Intelligence received a briefing from several top members of the intelligence community. This was their annual World-Wide Threats briefing. The accompanying Statement for the Record by the Director […]

Rick Perry’s Coal and Nuclear Subsidy NOPR

UPDATE: On January 8 FERC rejected the DOE NOPR https://www.utilitydive.com/news/ferc-rejects-doe-nopr-kicking-resilience-issue-to-grid-operators/514334/ At the end of September Energy Secretary Perry sent a request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency to initiate a Notice of Proposed Rule (NOPR) to create “Grid Resiliency Pricing.” Under the guise of increasing grid reliability and resilience, the Trump Administration is doing nothing more than radically increasing subsidies to uneconomic coal and nuclear generating plants. This is simply an effort to artificially create demand for coal and bail out owners of nuclear generating stations. The Administration is proposing that “fuel secure” generating stations receive “full recovery of costs” […]

Latest Manufactured Scandal: the Uranium One Deal

The Clintons certainly have a knack for attracting  right wing ire over non-events.   So it seems is the case with the latest manufactured scandal, Uranium One (U1) and the Clinton Foundation.  Amid the calls for investigations from the right, certain elements of the media have grossly mischaracterized aspects of the deal, implying that it poses a threat to national security by selling 20% of all US uranium to Russia. And since the principal party on the Russian side make large contributions to the Clinton Foundation while the deal was going through approvals, national security was sacrificed to the greed of […]

Is Biomass Carbon Neutral? Depends On How Much Time You Have

It is almost axiomatic within the renewables community that the combustion of biomass is carbon neutral.  That is to say that virtually all carbon released by burning will ultimately be offset by the absorption of carbon by new growth, provided the agricultural scheme deployed is renewable and sustainable. This assumption regarding the carbon neutrality of wood combustion is even being pushed in current Congressional legislation. While burning some biomass feedstocks might be carbon neutral, real questions arise when the fuel is wood, especially in the form of wood pellets.  A growing body of evidence concludes that the use of wood […]