Maine's Public Advocate (PA) has one mission: fight like hell for electric ratepayers.
The ratepayer watchdog is appointed by the governor and approved by the legislature, but he (or she) has a term that does not run concurrent with the governor. The PA is intended to have one master: us.
Bill Harwood was sworn in last week as the latest PA. Based on this press release from the governor's office, Mr. Harwood has picked up where the last few guys left off; making excuses, glossing over hard truths, and promoting gimmicky band aids instead of raising hell for us.
Mr. Harwood had a distinguished career practicing utilities law at Verrill Dana (yes, down the hall from Juliette Browne).
As he settles into his new office, maybe it's time citizens greet him with some correspondence demanding that he actually do the job he was hired to do.
This month CMP 88% and Versant 81% began charging their increased rates. What is Harwood doing? Revving up the govt cheese truck.
For the last decade Maine has hovered around 12th place in the nation for worst electricity rates. With these increases we are surely in the top 10, and knocking on the door of top 5.
Has any Public Advocate since Baldacci's Wind Rush ever once stood up for ratepayers and at least WARNED policymakers that the light bills are going to go up? Remember the Maine Power Reliability Project, the "necessary" transmission upgrade that all the insiders knew was the getaway car for Kurt Adams' wind heist?
And all the mandated power purchase agreements forced upon CMP, Bangor Hydro, Versant, et al?
The answer is no. The Public Advocates who predated Harwood all sat back and watched the train wreck.
Now the PUC is following the Legislature's directive as it takes bids to carpet bomb Northern Maine with wind and solar. What will Harwood do? Say?
Solar "farms" are sprouting like dandelions all over Maine, thanks to new laws passed in the last two years. What will Harwood do? Say?
Please write to the new Public Advocate, welcoming him to his new job. Tell him that you expect him (unlike his predecessors) to do it.