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Every year the Pentagon buys hundreds of billions of dollars of equipment and supplies, from ships and planes to weapons and food. Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine and other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee say they want the military to do a better job at procurement — he says it’s a matter of national security.

“Reducing lead times is almost as important as price. We can’t maintain our qualitative edge if it just takes too long to get the weapon into the field,” he says.

Joel Page / Associated Press

When power went out to some half a million Mainers after the October windstorm, another system went down too — Central Maine Power’s $200 million smart-grid communications network that, among other things, was supposed to improve outage communications and storm recovery.

The New England Fishery Management Council is ready to send an amended herring management rule to the public for input.

In September, the council advanced the first major part of Draft Amendment 8, which would change the way the fish is managed. Part one has ten different options for setting and managing long-term catch limits.

Herring analyst Deirdre Boelke says part two, approved for advancement on Tuesday, attempts to address a debated concept known as “localized depletion.”

PORTLAND, Maine - State officials say Amazon has let its state applications to become a pharmaceuticals wholesaler lapse.
The Portland Press Herald reports that the online retailer took no action to provide additional information needed on three applications before they expired on Dec. 1.
An Amazon spokeswoman declined comment other than to point out that the state licenses would've covered sales to Maine businesses, like medical and dental offices. The applications were filed in October.

Central Maine Power Co. is ramping up publicity around its bid to bring electricity from Canada through Maine and down to Massachusetts, saying it’s the cheapest alternative.

Massachusetts is looking for as much as 1,200 megawatts of electricity from renewable energy sources, and many stakeholders say the Bay State’s RFP puts an emphasis on energy from Canada’s massive Hydro-Quebec dam system. Bulk transmission systems are being proposed under Lake Champlain in Vermont and through New Hampshire’s White Mountains, some of it underground.

State regulators have granted a temporary reprieve for installers of small solar generation projects in Maine. It’s the latest shoe-drop in the ongoing controversy over the way those small-scale generators are compensated for excess electricity they provide.

For decades, Maine has offered solar projects credits for electricity they generate beyond what is used on-site. Early this year, the state Public Utilities Commission created a new rule that would reduce the value of those credits over time.

WATERVILLE, Maine - Officials in the Maine city of Waterville are moving forward with plans for a new strip mall.
The Kennebec Journal reports the Waterville planning board voted unanimously on Monday to approve the mall. Officials say the proposed 28,654-square-foot retail center would replace the former site of a restaurant and car wash. KMD Development LLC plans to include retail spaces, restaurants and a professional office.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

As the Trump administration reassesses its international trade policies, The Canadian government is moving forward with a new European trade agreement that will give its lobster suppliers an 8 percent price advantage in EU countries.

Maine lobster dealers hope to capitalize on longstanding relationships with buyers in Asia and Europe in order to offset the competitive disadvantage. But at least one major lobster shipper says lower prices for EU customers could prompt the industry to develop new markets here at home.

Susan Montoya Bryan / Associated Press

The fight over incentives for solar power installations in Maine enters a new phase this month.

New, less-generous incentives for solar installations set by the Maine Public Utilities Commission kick in on Jan. 1. But before then, parties on all sides are asking for some clarity.

Solar installers, for instance, want a ruling that any customer who asks to connect a new solar array to the grid by the end of this month will qualify for this year’s comparatively generous incentives. Central Maine Power says only installations that are actually up and running should qualify.

The Maine scallop season got underway for a few fishermen Friday, with a larger opening coming on Monday.

Maine Department of Marine Resources spokesman Jeff Nichols says Friday was the first day for scallop divers. Draggers will be able to go out Monday.

“It’s somewhere around 30 divers total. It’s a little more than 30 and the exact number of draggers, I’m not sure. I believe it’s somewhere in the 300-400 range,” he says.

A nonprofit organization that owns 2,200 affordable housing units in southern Maine and southern New Hampshire says it has seen a large increase in the number of people seeking those accommodations.

Avesta Housing Development Officer Greg Payne says, through the first three quarters of this year, nearly 3,000 households have contacted the organization looking for an affordable place to live.

With electric bills increasing faster than inflation, Rep. Seth Berry, a Bowdoinham Democrat, is proposing lawmakers look at how distribution costs are set by the Public Utilities Commission.

Berry says Mainers can’t afford to wait to address the issue.

“We really can’t wait an entire year to start examining these issues because of what’s at stake for our economy and the challenges these pending further increases present,” he says.

Unemployment in all three of Maine's metropolitan areas fell one-tenth of a percentage point in October.  

That means unemployment in Bangor is running at 3.1 percent of the workforce, Lewiston-Auburn at 2.9 percent and in Portland-South Portland, just 2.5 percent of people looking for work couldn't find jobs last month.  

The percentages translate to 2,178 people needing jobs in Bangor, 1,596 in Lewiston-Auburn and 5,054 in the Portland-South Portland Metro areas.

The figures were released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Maine utility regulators plan to open an investigation into a stalled proposal by Emera Maine to build and own a “microgrid” electricity generation project in Hampden.

The project is part of a $12 million plan in Maine and Canada to explore the potential of ultralocal, renewable energy supplies. Just why the regulators are revisiting what had been a closed case is, for the moment, a mystery.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Governor's Energy Office says heating oil prices are starting to rise in Maine.
A statewide survey this week put the average price at $2.44 per gallon, an increase of 9 percent since the heating season begin in October.
The increase comes on the heels of spikes following Hurricane Harvey in late August, which affected more than a third of the nation's refining capacity.