Fred Bever

News Reporter and Producer

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.

Fred formerly was Maine Public Radio’s chief political correspondent from 2001 to 2007 and returned to Maine Public Radio in early 2016 as a news reporter and producer, covering a wide variety of topics across Maine and the region.

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Fred Bever / Maine Public

A new threat to New England’s shellfish industry seems to be establishing itself more firmly, and regulators are trying to stay ahead of potentially deadly blooms of toxic algae that may be driven by climate change.

State planners are throwing a roadblock up against plans for 133 new wind turbines in western Maine.

The Land Use Planning Commission on Tuesday denied a petition from Nextera Energy to expand the geographic area of a special zone where wind projects get streamlined permitting treatment. The Commission ruled that the requested 25,000-acre expansion in the Chain of Ponds area was not a “logical geographic extension” of the existing zone.

We’re all familiar with getting overbilled for something and asking for our money back. But what happens when customers are underbilled? That’s the issue in a case pending before the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Documents show that over an extended period of time, a Maine natural gas company undercharged a group of its biggest commercial customers by almost half a million dollars, and regulators will now have to decide whether those companies should be required to pay it back.

Fred Bever / Maine Public

A proposal to create a new bike path along an existing rail line between Portland and Yarmouth is drawing strong interest from the communities it would pass through. It’s also raising worries that it would interfere with a plan to extend passenger train service from Portland to the Lewiston-Auburn area.

Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court is weighing the future of incentives for residential solar power. The court heard arguments Wednesday in a challenge to state regulators’ efforts to reduce and eventually phase out those incentives.

The case for maintaining more generous incentives for solar installations was argued not by a solar operator, but by an attorney for some of the state’s largest industrial energy consumers, such as paper mills, that aren’t actually in the solar power business at all.

State regulators are expanding the closure of shellfishing areas in southern Maine, in an effort to ward off exposure to a potentially deadly neurotoxin.

The closure now stretches from Portland Harbor north and east to the New Meadows area. The ban affects hundreds of acres of productive clam flats, as well as mussel and oyster farms.

Maine Department of Marine Resources spokesman Jeff Nichols says the precautionary closure is in response to phytoplankton bloom that can produce a toxin that in turn can cause what’s called amnesiac shellfish poisoning.

Robert F. Bukaty / Maine Public

Maine’s Department of Marine Resources is launching a half-million-dollar project to get a more comprehensive scientific assessment of one of the state’s most valuable resources — lobster. The new Maine Lobster Research Collaborative will focus on the lobster fishery’s biological, physical and social dynamics, as the request for proposals puts it.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Scientists, municipal and state officials, consultants and concerned citizens gathered in Portland Tuesday to consider ways to protect against rising sea-levels and intense storms.

Sponsored by the Rockland-based Island Institute, the daylong forum highlighted work up and down the coast documenting the dangers sea-level rise and other climate-change-driven events pose for vulnerable ecosystems and infrastructure. The 60-plus attendees discussed strategies and standards that would foster coastal resilience, and how to finance solutions.

A man accused of running a major welfare scam out of a Portland halal grocery is pleading guilty to several charges of federal food stamp and other welfare fraud.

Ali Ratib Daham is also pleading to money laundering and theft from the state’s MaineCare program. Prosecutors are agreeing to drop dozens of other charges in the case. The plea deal, filed earlier this month, will be considered in federal district court Tuesday afternoon, with sentencing to come later.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Coveted Maine shrimp are likely off the menu again in 2018.

For the fifth straight year, federal scientists are recommending a moratorium on commercial fishing of northern shrimp in the Gulf of Maine. The small, sweet-tasting invertebrates’ numbers and biomass in the gulf have been dropping steadily, reaching their lowest recorded level this year, according to Max Appelman, who coordinates the fishery’s management for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

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