Monday, March 22, 2010

A small fire broke out inside a trash shredder at the Biddeford, Maine waste-to-energy plant Maine Energy Recovery Company (MERC). Perhaps the energy content of the fuel was just bursting to be set free.

Remember the battle over whether the Fort Halifax dam and its associated hydroelectric generating capacity on the Sebasticook River in Winslow, Maine should be removed? The 100-year-old dam was breached in July 2008 after lengthy debate and legal proceedings. , In essence, dam owner FPL Energy Maine Hydro (formerly Florida Power & Light, now NextEra) found itself burdened by a fish passage requirement imposed during the Edwards Dam removal proceedings. Under the Kennebec Hydro Developers Group Agreement (or the KHDG Agreement), FPL found itself either required to breach the dam or install a particular fish passage technology. FPL elected to breach the dam. Many people, including state representative Ken Fletcher of Winslow, opposed this decision, arguing that FPL's choice would have dire environmental and cost consequences, and that it was bad policy in light of the overall push for more renewable capacity. Representative Fletcher has now filed a document with the Maine DEP demonstrating costs to taxpayers of between $950,000 and $1.6 million. Key cost components include: $114,997 for the town's share of replacing a sewer line exposed after breach, $30,375 in costs for title and survey work over and above the value the town recovered by selling formerly submerged lands, $800,000 more than previously estimated to replace the Mile Brook Bridge on Garland Road due to erosion, , and $725,396 to demolish six homes on an unstable riverside slope on Dallaire Street.

The "energy corridor" bill in Maine was voted Ought to Pass as Amended by the Joint Standing Committee on Utilities and Energy. Among the issues are how Maine should regulate high-impact transmission lines connecting the massive hydroelectric capacity of Hydro-Quebec to southern New England markets, given that these lines will affect Maine's costs and strategic energy position.

The AP is covering a story about a California water district's proposed use of 47 square miles of poorly-managed farmland -- land that due to bad water use is now very salty -- for a solar photovoltaic farm of up to one gigawatt.

Who wants free money? $1.3 million in energy grants through Efficiency Maine to Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle, Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor, Kennebec Community College in Augusta and Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. $2 million in grants for water projects too.

Wind siting: Thorndike voters approved the siting ordinance. Fort Kent votes tonight.

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