PUC rejects merger



Ed Schwabe reported: “On Wednesday, Jan. 18, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC), by a vote of 2-1, disapproved the proposed acquisition of Swans Island Electric Cooperative (SIEC) by Emera Maine. The commission was concerned by the acquisition costs, including the improvements that Emera planned to make on Frenchboro and Swans Island. At the same time, the commission urged both utilities to ‘sharpen their pencils’ and to work at reducing the acquisition costs so that the commission might reconsider the proposal, provided that it had a lesser impact on mainland rate payers. Of course, we are disappointed and somewhat surprised by this turn of events. But we will be working with Emera over the next several weeks to determine if there is some way to satisfy the commission, since they have invited us to revise and resubmit our proposal in this regard. We will keep the membership informed of any developments.”

During the deliberations, Bruce Williamson, one of the three-person panel appointed by Gov. Paul LePage to decide about the proposed acquisition, said, “Well, people choose to live on Swans Island. They managed to live with high oil and high fuel prices in the past. Everything costs more than it does on the mainland, and it always has.”

This statement, along with holding Swans Island and Frenchboro to what appears to be a different “in the public interest” test from other islands enjoying mainland rates, has islanders and legislative representatives bristling. Selectman Sonny Sprague has noted that 22 of our current students have ties to Swans Island that extend back to the 1700s; this seems a far cry from “choosing” to live on the island, such as someone who has no such ties to the area deciding to move here.

Our legislative representative Walter Kumiega III said, “Not the first time I have been deeply disappointed by the current PUC, but this might be their worst decision so far. They are OK with Swans Island and Frenchboro residents paying hundreds or thousands more dollars to protect several hundred thousand inland ratepayers from possible rate increases that might be $5 a year.”

Many islanders are wondering where Williamson obtains his information on the allegedly higher cost of things on the islands and how the people have “managed to live with it”; still others question if the panel’s “in the public interest” test was previously applied to any other offshore island that now enjoys mainland rates.

Leah Staples expressed her gratitude: “The bake sale at the recent basketball games was a huge success. We raised $292. A big thank you goes out to everyone that made goodies and to those who purchased them. Thank you again for supporting our basketball teams!”

Everyone is invited to the library for Healthy U Healthy Me’s “It’s All About the Smoothie” event on Thursday, Jan. 26, at 6:30 p.m. Join everyone for an evening of making and drinking smoothies, such as “warm apple pie,” “chocolate overnight oatmeal,” “berry beet blast” and “awesome anti-inflammatory.”

Happy birthday to Jill Trask, Annette S. Joyce, Tammy Tripler, Benjamin Treadwell, Eric Alen Carlson, Fiona Abigail Robinson, Phoebe Adelle Robinson and Steven Gardner. Anniversary blessings to Galen and Jennifer Turner.

Kimberly Haller

Kimberly Haller

If you have news to share, email or call me by Sunday noon if you need it to be included in the following edition. Email me at [email protected]or call me at 526-4488.

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