The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has again approved a $333 million joint venture between Boston-based First Wind and Nova Scotia-based Emera. In March, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled against the PUC's initial approval of the deal and sent the matter back to the regulator for redetermination.
The two companies worked to establish the venture to jointly own and operate wind projects in the northeastern U.S., with First Wind owning 51% of the company and Emera owning the remaining 49%.
However, Emera is also the parent company of transmission and distribution (T&D) utilities Maine Public Service Co. and Bangor Hydro, and the Supreme Court argued that a state law restricts a company from owning both T&D and generation assets.
According to a Portland Press Herald report, PUC Chairman Thomas Welch said during the most recent deliberations that the regulator has worked to make sure that the joint venture and its parent companies will be separated and that the deal would not create an unfair advantage.
John Lamontagne, a spokesperson for First Wind, notes that although the PUC voted in favor of the joint venture, the developer is still waiting on a written order. "We've very encouraged by the vote and look forward to reviewing their final order. We appreciate their careful review and approval."
"In a nutshell," he continues, "what it means for us is that the joint venture with Emera will allow us to move ahead with more potential investment in renewable energy projects in Maine and the Northeast."