AUGUSTA, Maine — The state public advocate’s office, which represents the interests of utility customers in Maine, has withdrawn its opposition to a multimillion-dollar transaction to build wind turbines across Maine and the Northeast.
Public Advocate Timothy Schneider said the move was made after his office reviewed its previous position and decided that the deal would not undermine state utility regulation or threaten ratepayers with higher energy prices.
“We have a mandate to protect ratepayers,” said Schneider. “That’s what we did,” he said, referring to the legal brief filed on Friday.
The public advocate was a key opponent of the proposed deal when it was considered by the Maine Public Utilities Commission in 2011 and 2012, saying that it would violate the state’s landmark electricity restructuring act and hurt ratepayers by raising prices.
Despite the opposition of the public advocate and several other parties, the PUC approved the transaction in 2012. The public advocate then filed an appeal with the state’s highest court, as did the other parties that opposed it, and the court dealt a blow to the deal by vacating the PUC’s approval and sending it back to the agency for reconsideration.
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