EUT Committee Co-Chairman Representative Mark Dion's bill to allow generators to be owned by affiliates of T&D utilities was given a sound thrashing at today's work session. Witnesses representing utilities, consumer groups, generators, and the conservation of Maine's landscape all emphasized that there could be no "Code of Conduct" written that would prevent Iberdrola from profiting from its ownership of both CMP as the transmission company and Avangrid as the generation company in CMP's service area. Ratepayers and competitors would be at risk, just as the Law Court decided in its first review of the appeal of the First Wind/Emera merger in 2012.
Dion was unwilling to take no for an answer, and other committee members groped for suggestions to make the bill palatable, so tomorrow we can expect a further behind the scenes re-write of the bill and for Dion to do his best to get his committee members in formation behind the bill.
It is not too late to send the committee members your thoughts about enabling CMP and Avangrid, both owned by parent company Iberdrola, to work together on transmission interconnect agreements, which would be very difficult if not impossible for the PUC to scrutinize or regulate effectively. Utilities and generators were separated in the best interests of competition and rate payer fairness in 1998. Nothing has changed that dynamic. The law should not be "tweaked" to provide "clarity", instead the legislature should await the verdict of the Law Court and, if inclined to consider changing the law afterward, they should then give this issue the in depth study that it deserves, instead of shooting at a moving target as is happening now.
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