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April 3, 2014

Hydropower profit-sharing bill heads to LePage's desk

A bill to let paper mill owner Cate Street Capital negotiate a profit-sharing agreement for hydropower generated by Penobscot River dams owned by Brookfield Asset Management cleared the Legislature in unanimous votes Wednesday.

The Bangor Daily News reported the bill now heads to Gov. Paul LePage, who more than a month ago was the first to publicly propose the idea of allowing Cate Street to share profits from Brookfield’s sale of electricity to the wholesale market.

The bill changes a law enacted in 2002 that restricted Brookfield to selling all the electricity generated by its three Penobscot River dams to the mill when it’s running. Cate Street gets that power at a discount, defined in a 10-year power contract in 2011.

Harold Pachios, Brookfield’s attorney, told lawmakers Wednesday the bill’s passage “does nothing.”

The amended bill that passed Wednesday, LD 1792, would allow Brookfield to negotiate profit-sharing with the mill for periods of up to 90 days. During those periods, the mill could reduce or stop production, allowing Brookfield to sell on the wholesale market power that would otherwise go to the mill at a discount. The two companies would then share those profits. It would also allow the mill to negotiate a retroactive profit-sharing agreement for up to 90 days of its shutdown, which began on Jan. 23 in order to restructure its business. The bill would require the mill to restart by June 30, 2014, in order to share past profits. The mill owners have said they plan to restart operations by May 1.


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