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April 11, 2012 | last updated April 12, 2012 11:47 am

Regulators approve First Wind-Emera deal

The Maine Public Utilities Commission has approved 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, despite a recommendation from its staff to reject the deal.

The PUC approved Massachusetts-based First Wind and Halifax, Nova Scotia-based Emera to partner with Ontario-based Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp., according to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. They would jointly own and operate First Wind's 370-megawatt wind farm portfolio and develop other projects. The estimated worth of the deal could be as much as $880 million. Emera owns Bangor Hydro Electric Co. and Maine & Maritimes Corp.

The PUC staff in January recommended the PUC oppose the deal, saying it could lead to higher energy prices and the utilities to give their new affiliates preferential treatment. Commissioners, however, said the economic benefits of the investment outweigh potential drawbacks, and that additional regulations could protect consumers.

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