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February 24, 2014 From the Editor

Lighting the way

I've lived in Maine long enough to remember the green, reusable envelope CMP sent its bill in. You opened it a certain way, and then you could refold it as the return envelope with your check tucked safely inside.

It was an indication of CMP's commitment to conservation. Now that commitment is coming into question as a controversial rate proposal under review by the Public Utilities Commission would require alternative energy users (for example, folks with solar panels on their roofs or businesses fueled by biomass) who need access to the grid to pay a surcharge despite their reduced electricity consumption. The plan has riled opponents across the state, who see the measure undermining alternative energy initiatives and incentives.

CMP argues that the company using photovoltaic cells to power itself still needs to count on the grid when its battery storage fails, or it can't supply enough internally supplied power to meets its demand. That reliance — even if it's only occasional — means those power consumers need to help pay the cost of the region's electricity grid just as those who get all their power via CMP lines.

It's a complicated, controversial issue, one which Senior Writer Jim McCarthy lays out admirably in his cover story, “Power play.” At stake are the returns to both CMP shareholders and those who've invested in alternative energy systems.

Investments are a running theme in most issues of Mainebiz. This one is no exception. As part of our focus on greater Portland, we talk to Brett Austin, newly appointed president of Portland's Kepware Technologies. The company, which develops software that lets disparate machines communicate with each other, has tripled its revenue to more than $30 million over the past four years. Yowza. See how they do it in Senior Writer Lori Valigra's story, “Under the hood,” starting on page 22.

Also part of this focus section, we talk to Bill Needelman, waterfront coordinator for the city of Portland. It's a new position, created to provide liaison services among the city, the Maine Port Authority and the International Marine Terminal and the increasing potential the waterfront has to drive revenues for the city. Hear what Bill has to say in Jim's story, “Focus on the waterfront,” starting on page 18.

And we spend a few minutes with Carrie Enos, president of the University of Maine Pulp and Paper Foundation, in our On the Record piece on page 27. Carrie steps in for retiring Jack Healy, just as the foundation embarks on a new five-year plan to deliver more University of Maine engineers to the pulp and paper industry.

Weary of all this snow? So are we. Let's commiserate at the first of the Mainebiz On the Road receptions in 2014. It's planned for Wednesday, March 19, at the Port City Music Hall on Congress Street in Portland from 5 to 7 p.m. Of course, we'll talk business, too, but hopefully by then we can talk about the winter that was, rather than the winter this is. You can register at

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