Business and Economy

Business news

CONCORD, N.H. - Gas prices are still on the rise in northern New England.
GasBuddy's daily survey of gas outlets says the price has risen 3.2 cents per gallon in Vermont in the last week, averaging $2.66. The price in Maine went up 1.3 cents to $2.64 a gallon. New Hampshire's price increased 1.6 cents, to $2.56 a gallon.
The national average increased last week by 1.9 cents to $2.60 a gallon. It's 11.2 cents per gallon higher than last month, and 34 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public/file

Brett Miller returns to offer his outlook on the economy.  Miller is senior portfolio manager for Key Private Bank in Portland.  He talked with Maine Public Radio's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz.

The City of Portland is surveying landlords to get more information on Portland's housing situation.

City planner Jeff Levine says the survey is being conducted because the Council's Housing Committee felt some information was lacking following the release of a 2017 Housing Report in October.

"We didn't have a good sense of what the real rents are that are being charged right now," said Levine. "We know a lot of anecdotal things but wanted to get more scientific data."

Massachusetts officials are saying little about the rejection by New Hampshire regulators of a key hydropower project.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said in a statement the agency will "continue to monitor and evaluate developments," but officials referred all other questions about Northern Pass to New Hampshire officials and utility Eversource.

A Maine-based group of companies has purchased the former Old Town pulp mill complex, which has had several different owners in recent years.

OTM Holdings LLC says it plans to redevelop the site into a wood fiber-based complex with multiple tenants. The group’s business development director, Everett Deschenes, says the investors in the project are involved in Maine’s forest industry. He says with so many Maine mills shutting down in recent years, the investors have had problems getting rid of their low-grade fiber.

A state panel in New Hampshire on Thursday rejected a permit the Northern Pass power line project needs to move forward.

Just last week the project’s developers beat out others — including several in Maine — that bid for a massive renewable energy contract sought by Massachusetts.

The Northern Pass project would sluice electricity from Canada’s Hydro Quebec dam system through New Hampshire to Massachusetts customers.

A coalition of Maine communities spent most of last year trying to break free from contractual agreements with the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington. But now those same 100 communities want to sign an interim agreement with the trash-to-energy plant.

Cold weather, heavy snow and high winds over the past several weeks have pushed back the planned April 1 opening date for the new Fiberight biogas solid waste facility in Hampden. That has forced members of the Municipal Review Committee to look for other places to send their trash.

Officials say Carbonite’s decision to trim its workforce at a Lewiston call center over the last few years while still taking advantage of a state tax incentive program doesn’t violate the program’s terms.

Doug Ray of the Maine Department of Economic And Community Development says that’s because the company gets the benefits of the Pine Tree Development Zone program for every job it adds to the economy, even if the company is offering fewer jobs this year than it did last year.

OLD TOWN, Maine - A closed-down paper mill in Maine has been bought by a joint venture that plans to redevelop it into a wood fiber complex housing multiple tenants.
OTM Holdings, LLC announced Wednesday it had purchased the former Old Town pulp mill from MFGR, LLC. The Portland Press Herald reports the sale will save the complex from demolition by the liquidation company that formerly owned the mill.

Mary Schwalm / Associated Press File

Bath Iron Works could get another tax break under legislation being considered this session in Augusta, which comes as a 20-year-old break for the shipyard is about to run out.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

A Norwegian company  plans to construct one of world's largest aquaculture farms in Belfast within the next two years. State and community leaders gathered in Belfast Tuesday to welcome Nordic Aquafarms.

Nordic Aquafarms CEO Erik Heim says his company plans to raise Atlantic Salmon for global distribution. The budget for the facility's first phase, says Heim, is $150 million, which he expects to grow to $450 to $500 million.

Massachusetts opted last week for one large power line to cover a big chunk of its energy needs for the next 20-plus years.

The Northern Pass proposal beat out other big transmission projects and dozens of smaller options for the right to supply all renewable power the Commonwealth wants.

As NHPR's Annie Ropeik reports, this has analysts and developers wondering what role smaller projects will play in the future of the grid.

OGUNQUIT, Maine - A Maine bakery will pay nearly $95,000 in fines over its use and hiring of foreign workers.
The Portland Press Herald reports Bread and Roses Bakery Inc., in Ogunquit, reached the agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor to pay $73,115 in back wages and $21,052 in penalties. The federal agency says the bakery advertised lower wage levels for American workers and then paid temporary foreign workers hired under the H-2B visa at a higher wage rate.
The department says the bakery also failed to pay prevailing wages to nine employees.

CONCORD, N.H. - Gas prices are increasing in northern New England.
GasBuddy's daily survey of gas outlets says the price has risen 4 cents per gallon in Maine in the last week, averaging $2.61. The price in New Hampshire went up 3.1 cents to an average of $2.53 a gallon. Vermont's price increased 2.8 cents, to $2.63 a gallon.
The national average increased last week by 3 cents to $2.57 a gallon. It's 8.8 cents per gallon higher than last month, and 30.7 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.

Maine Awards 11 New Fishing Licenses For Valuable Baby Eels

Jan 25, 2018
Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

For the first time in five years, the state has issued new licenses for Maine’s lucrative baby eel fishery.

Eleven people were chosen through a lottery that more than 3,000 Mainers hoped to win, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The deadline for submitting applications to participate was Jan. 15.

In 2013, the last time the state held the drawing, more than 5,000 people applied for the chance to win one of four new elver fishing licenses.