Business and Economy

Business news

State regulators have turned back more than half of a rate increase sought by Emera, the electric utility that serves Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service customers.

The Public Utilities Commission knocked down the company’s allowed return on equity for some investments to 9 percent, partly in response to mismanagement identified by an independent auditor.

Commisioner Bruce Williamson reeled of a list of Emera practices that puzzled him.

A Bangor area waste-to-energy facility and an organization of communities it serves have resolved their differences over a separation agreement that triggered competing Superior Court lawsuits.

In a prepared statement, representatives of the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. and the Municipal Review Committee said they had reached an agreement leading to the withdrawal of the lawsuits and a clearer path toward the dissolution of their business relationship over the next 16 months.

PORTLAND, Maine - Amtrak's Downeaster has been a runaway success, transporting more than 6 million passengers. But success was no guarantee when the first train departed on the cold, rainy morning.

Even rail advocate Wayne Davis, who successfully lobbied for the service, said the Portland-to-Boston passenger route wasn't a sure thing, even after multiple studies and more than $50 million in taxpayer spending on track upgrades. That was 15 years ago Thursday.

PORTLAND, Maine — Officials in Portland say further discussion is needed before they recommend regulations on short-term rentals to the city council.

The Portland Press Herald reports Jill Duson, chairwoman of the council’s Housing Committee, concluded at a Wednesday meeting that the committee had more work to do.

The city has been discussing short-term rental regulations amid the growing popularity of Airbnb, which allows people to advertise their rooms, apartments and homes for a relatively short period.

A panel of scientists say Maine could greatly increase private-sector investment in clean energy by creating a so-called green bank that would improve access to capital needed to finance energy upgrades.

Steve Clemmer, energy research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists and lead author of the analysis, says the banks are public or quasi-public finance authorities that use limited public dollars to leverage greater private investment in clean energy through innovative financing techniques and market development tools.

State regulators have approved a $13 million taxpayer subsidy to reopen or keep open several biomass electricity generation plants in the state.

Earlier this year, lawmakers approved a plan to use surplus state revenues to prop up the biomass industry, and the forest-products workers who depend on it, by supplementing the prices the plants get when selling electricity on the regional grid. Now the state Public Utilities Commission has chosen the winning bidders.

A major southern Maine utility district is continuing its year-to-year capital plan with an $8.7 million investment in infrastructure upgrades.

The Maine Water Co. has earmarked $2 million of that amount for the design and permitting of new water treatment facility in Biddeford.

Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Some fishermen are pinning their hopes on a new kind of trawl net at use in the Gulf of Maine, designed to scoop up abundant flatfish such as flounder and sole while avoiding species such as cod, which regulators say are in severe decline.

LEWISTON, Maine - Poland Spring is proposing to expand its water withdrawal operations to Rumford.  The company pitched its plan to the Rumford Water District at a meeting Wednesday night. 

The plan calls for a long-term contract to withdraw up to 150 million gallons from two well sites in the Ellis River watershed.  Mark Dubois is the natural resource manager for the company. "We believe we can sustainably withdraw spring water up there while the district maintains its commitment to serve ratepayers."

PORTLAND, Maine - Federal figures indicate that Maine's economy grew just over half a percent between April and June of this year.

That's less than New England as a whole, and the U.S. as a whole, both of which grew between 1 and 2 percent.

PORTLAND, Maine - The U.S. International Trade Commission announced yesterday it will extend import duties on coated paper from China and Indonesia.  

Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King welcomed the news. "Maine's paper-makers can compete with anyone on a level playing field," the two say, in a joint statement.

The senators wrote that the import tariff will support companies - such as Verso Paper - that employ hundreds of Mainers.  Verso was one of the companies that petitioned the trade commission to extend the import tariff.

About 600 foreclosure notices from the city of Bangor went into the mail Tuesday to alert residents with outstanding balances that time is running out to make good on their debts to the city.

The outstanding balances on past due property tax payments and sewer or stormwater fees stretch back two years, when the city initiated property tax lien attachments. Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci says the city just wants its residents to pay their fair share.

PORTLAND, Maine - The company that's buying FairPoint Communications is likely to expand broadband to more customers and to compete with cable companies for TV customers.

Illinois-based Consolidated Communications already has video offerings in other markets, and an analyst says the network can support such service in northern New England.

Maine tourism officials say the state is poised to match and likely surpass last year’s record-breaking tourist season, which produced more than $5.5 billion in revenue. This, following a summer that was short on rain and long on savings at the gas pump.

As the LePage administration prepares a new two-year budget, tourism groups are releasing a series of new ads detailing the industry’s broad effect on Maine’s economy.

Anthony Brino / Bangor Daily News

By Darren Fishell, Bangor Daily News

PORTLAND, Maine — Developers of one of the largest wind projects ever planned in Maine pulled their request for a state permit, after struggling to connect to the grid and find buyers for their power.