Business and Economy

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Maine Public

Stored Solar LLC, the owner of two biomass energy plants set to receive a slice of a $13.4 million taxpayer-subsidized bailout, is the target of legislation designed to make sure the company’s loggers and contractors are compensated for unpaid bills. The measure also recommends that the Maine Attorney General investigate the company.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

A legislative committee has voted against a Republican plan to overturn a minimum wage law that was passed by voters. The issue will still go before the full Legislature for consideration.

The LePage administration is proposing legislation that would add an annual fee on electric and hybrid cars in order to pay for highway maintenance.

The Portland Press Herald reports the measure would tack on a $250 fee for electric vehicles and a $150 fee for hybrids.

Meghan Russo, manager of legislative services for MDOT, says the fee is being imposed because owners of hybrids and electric vehicles don't pay a gas tax.

Massachusetts officials are demanding to know whether a hydro project that was rejected by New Hampshire regulators is still a viable option for delivering clean energy to the state by 2020.

The $1.6 billion Northern Pass project was supposed to bring hydropower from Canada by creating a transmission line through New Hampshire for customers in southern New England. But the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee last week unanimously rejected its application, citing the project's impact on local communities, businesses and the regional tourism industry.

How Belfast Sweetened The Deal To Win A $150 Million Salmon Farm

Feb 8, 2018
Gabor Degre / Bangor Daily News

BELFAST, Maine — Belfast officials offered to foot the bill for about $240,000 in startup costs to court one of the world’s largest land-based salmon farms, bringing the biggest investment midcoast Maine has seen in decades.

Confidential information of around 100 Waldo County employees was stolen earlier this week in a phishing attack. County spokesperson David Farmer says that Monday someone impersonating a county official emailed a county worker and was able to obtain employee W-2 forms.

“Once the county realized what had happened they moved into a rapid response cycle to make sure that they took as much precaution as possible to protect employees and to notify appropriate law enforcement and governmental officials,” says Farmer.

Southern Maine Health Care has named a new chief executive officer.

The Journal Tribune reports that Nathan Howell will replace retiring CEO Ed McGeachey May 21.

The new CEO will be tasked with overseeing York County's largest health care system and one of the county's largest employers. The system includes a full service, acute-care medical center in Biddeford and a medical center in Sanford.

Howell graduated from Colby College and earned his business degree from Cornell University.

LL Bean Starts Employee Buyouts, Ends Pension Plan

Feb 6, 2018
Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

L.L. Bean, Maine’s fifth-largest employer, has started an employee buyout plan and other belt-tightening measures after a couple years of flat sales.

The measures, announced last February, started Jan. 1, with the aim of reducing its workforce by 500 full-time people, or 10 percent of its 5,000 employees, said L.L. Bean spokeswoman Carolyn Beem. Of L.L. Bean’s total employees, 4,000 are in Maine working in manufacturing, call centers, stores and administrative offices.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

PORTLAND, Maine - Fishermen from Maine are planning to use an interstate hearing to make the case they should be allowed to catch more baby eels.
Baby eels, called elvers, are worth more than $1,000 per pound at the docks in Maine because of the role they play in Asian aquaculture. Maine's the only state in the country with a significant fishery for elvers.

SANFORD, Maine - Two credit union banks in Maine say they intend to merge, citing the interests of their members.
York County Federal Credit Union of Sanford and Atlantic Federal Credit Union of Brunswick made the announcement Monday, saying they believe it is in the immediate and long-term interest of their customers to pursue a merger. The Portland Press Herald reports Atlantic has roughly $363 million in assets and more than 21,000 members and York has assets of about $303 million and more than 23,000 members.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

When the doctor tells you to open up and say, “Ahhh,” pretty much anywhere in the world, there’s a chance that the wooden stick pressing on your tongue was made in Maine. And the wooden stick in that Creamsicle? Probably also from Maine.

The University of Maine is defending the initial award of a $100 million contract to provide renewable energy to its Orono campus after a Portland Press Herald report raised questions about insider influence — but the university is also conducting a new audit of the bidding process.

Last June, a university team chose an affiliate of the Con Edison company as the winning bidder over three other finalists for the multiyear energy contract. That didn’t seal the deal, but meant that Con Ed and the university would enter negotiations over a final contract.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press File

Members of Maine’s lobster industry say the state should keep funding a marketing group that uses fees from those within the industry to promote seafood in the U.S.

Maine Lobstermen’s Association President Dave Cousens told members of the state’s Marine Resources Committee that the Lobster Marketing Collaborative helps tell the story of Maine lobster.

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.