May 5, 2015 - A new article this morning from the Bangor Daily News following up on Governor LePage's nomination yesterday of Bruce Williamson to the Maine PUC begins with the words:
"One of the biggest and broadest challenges ahead in the electricity world is how to pay for the grid upgrades expected to cost about $1.5 trillion nationally between 2010 and 2030, an estimate developed by consultants at The Brattle Group".
WHOA. Slow down. Before you start reading the rest of the article I suggest you reread that paragraph and contemplate:
a) the enormity of that dollar figure
b) the need for residents and businesses in Maine to carefully decide whether such grid upgrades are in fact inevitable as suggested by this lead off paragraph
After all, in Maine we were sold the idea of the $1.4 Billion CMP upgrade (Maine Power Reliability Project) on the basis of needing to replace our "aging lines", when in fact the REAL REASON for this monstrous expense was for the Baldacci administration and its PUC, controlled by Kurt Adams (already interviewing at the time for the job of Director of Transmission at First Wind), to have ratepayers buy First Wind the shipping system for its electrons and hoping nobody would notice.
The FACT is that wherever in the world wind power is being installed, grossly costly new transmission is required to accommodate the fact that wind's unpredictably occurring electrons, however insignificant over the course of the year, will thermally overload the grid if new lines are not built. As recently as last week, at the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee 4/29 Public Hearing, Maine's "Public Advocate", Timothy Schneider denied this fact that increased transmission expenses in wind are due to wind proliferation after Friends of Maine's Mountains correctly made such an assertion. Schneider amazingly said FMM's assertion was false and that we are building for reliability. However, following Schneider's outrageous statement, Tony Buxton of Preti Flaherty's Energy & Utilities Practice Group got up and said FMM's assertion was in fact very true, that more than half of the MPRP was to accommodate Maine wind. Paraphrasing what Buxton said: "I was there. I was an intervener. I was party to the stipulation. They won't stand here and say it, but everybody knew it." Apparently, the EUT Committee was shocked at this revelation.
Plain and simple, the biggest scam in the Maine wind saga to date is that that $1.4 billion transmission project, a gift to the wind industry, was sold in under the false pretense of a need for reliability due to aging lines. Folks, the need for reliability was and is not due to aging lines but rather the proliferation of wind power. Plain and simple and no two ways about it.
If we do not draw a line in the sand as ratepayers, taxpayers and citizens and do everything in our power to challenge this big lie, we will continue to be led down the road to serfdom.
Follow the money and check all assumptions.
The article this morning:
Earlier coverage on the Bruce Williamson nomination:
Knoxville News-Sentinel: UTennessee researcher nominated for seat on Maine Public Utilities Commission
Williamson said he took an interest in the Maine job after Vannoy's suggestion when they met at American Council of Engineering Companies' annual Engineering Excellence Awards. Williamson said he didn't realize at the time that Vannoy was MPUC chairman, thinking only that he was a PUC staff member.
Bangor Daily News (watch for updates)
Portland Press Herald (watch for updates)
May 4, 2015
For Immediate Release: Monday, May 04, 2015 Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage announced today that Dr. Bruce Williamson, an economist at the University of Tennessee’s Howard Baker Center for Public Policy, has been nominated as Commissioner of the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC). If approved by the Legislature, Williamson would join engineer and Commission Chair Mark Vannoy, and attorney Carlisle McClean, at the Commission.
In addition to his role as senior economist at the Howard Baker Center, Dr. Williamson has served as a research professor at the University’s College of Business Administration; a lecturer in advanced data analytics; and as a senior economist at the National Defense Business Institute. Prior to 2009, Dr. Williamson held various high level positions in technology, utility, telecommunications, and economic modeling firms.
“Maine is very fortunate to have such highly talented professionals working on the state’s complex energy issues,” states Governor Paul LePage. “We are excited that Dr. Williamson is willing to come to Maine to help us address our unique energy challenges and high energy costs.”
The Governor’s sentiments are echoed by Dr. Williamson’s present and former colleagues.
“As a former state commissioner, I know how important it is to have creative and intelligent individuals working on addressing energy challenges. I’m excited for Bruce and the state of Maine; you will have a high caliber economist working on these issues.” -- Suedeen Kelly, former Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner, nominated by both President Bush and Obama, and former Chair and Commissioner, New Mexico Public Service Commission
“While we will miss Bruce Williamson at the Howard Baker Center, we are ecstatic for Bruce and his nomination. The State of Maine is lucky to have an individual of his caliber be considered for the Public Utilities Commission. I have found Bruce to be intelligent, professional, and creative and I am encouraged that he will be working to address energy and environmental challenges.” -- Dr. Howard Hall, Senior Fellow and Director of Global Security Programs, The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy
Williamson earned his PhD in economics at the University of New Mexico; holds an M.A. in International Relations from the Korbel School of International Studies in Colorado; and has an undergraduate degree from Cornell University.
The MPUC regulates electric, natural gas, telecommunications and water utilities to ensure that Maine consumers enjoy safe, adequate and reliable services at rates that are just and reasonable for both consumers and utilities. The Commission oversees emerging competitive markets for some of these services. The Commission also regulates water taxis and ferries in Casco Bay, and promotes safe digging through the Dig Safe underground utility damage prevention program.
“I encourage the Legislature to move swiftly on this nomination and base their consideration on the merits and qualifications of Dr. Williamson. There is important work to do at the MPUC and I have the utmost confidence he will serve the people of Maine well,” added Governor LePage.
Williamson would replace outgoing Commissioner David Littell. He will appear before the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology in the upcoming weeks. A date has not yet been scheduled.