Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, has spent the better part of three years pitching Brunswick Landing as the epicenter of an emerging clean energy market in Maine and is nearly ready to seal a deal with a company that intends to build an anaerobic digester at the former Navy base. Until recently, he had no inkling that goal also would put Brunswick Landing in a high-stakes policy battle with Central Maine Power Co.
But that’s where he finds himself, joining more than a dozen trade, environmental and renewable energy groups that have filed with the Maine Public Utilities Commission as intervenors in CMP’s Alternative Rate Plan 2014 proposal. The plan sets rates for residential and small business customers over the next five years.
At issue is a CMP proposal to base the distribution part of its bill on fixed costs rather than customers’ usage. The rub for opponents of CMP’s plan is a surcharge, or standby rate, that would be charged to customers with on-site power generation who still need access to the grid. Customers such as the company proposing to build the anaerobic digester at Brunswick Landing, which would need access to the grid if their on-site power generation goes down, expect the standby rate could cost in the thousands annually.
“It certainly has the potential of making our Renewable Energy Center unfeasible,” says Levesque. “It’s pretty expensive as is to generate power through renewable sources. If we had an additional charge …, it’s very likely we couldn’t pass that on to our tenants. No one would come here. Our combined rate would be too expensive.”
Reported by James McCarthy for Mainebiz. More at: http://www.mainebiz.biz/article/20140224/CURRENTEDITION/302209999