March 5 Letters to the Editor

Posted March 04, 2009, at 6:20 p.m.

Powering The County

The BDN’s Feb. 6 article, “Northern Maine electric power connection iced,” could be misleading to the reader. The article suggests that some northern Maine electric customers are not receiving the benefits of competition because they are not directly connected to the New England power grid. In fact, northern and eastern Maine electric customers have consistently experienced lower rates since competition in the electric utility industry was implemented in March 2000.

Since then, retail electric rates for customers of Maine Public Service Co., Houlton Water Co., Van Buren Light & Power District and Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative have averaged 1 cent per kwh lower than rates for customers of Central Maine Power Co. and Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., which are connected to New England.

The average annual consumption of the portion of Maine connected to New Brunswick is 800 million kwh. Since 2000, lower rates equate to total savings of approximately $72 million, and the trend of lower rates continues. In recent bids to provide standard offer service to MPS customers, residential rates are lower than those of the Maine utilities connected to New England by approximately $1.13 million per year.

Although northern Maine does not enjoy as many competitive suppliers as southern Maine, the number is not necessarily an effective measure of market efficiency; lower prices are. Wholesale electricity prices and rates have trended much lower in those areas of Maine not connected to the New England grid. Those lower costs result in lower prices for ratepayers. Wasn’t that the goal of deregulation of the electric utility industry?

Ken Belcher

president

Northern Maine Independent System Administrator

Bangor

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ShopGirl plea

Say it ain’t so! Kristen Andresen’s weekly ShopGirl column was the first thing I turned to in the BDN’s weekend edition. Her vibrant column was a breath of fresh air and introduced us to merchants and crafters we might not have discovered by ourselves.

In our current dour economy must we give up all joy to wait for more prosperous times? Isn’t it especially important to promote shopping locally (and not just for bulk goods and insurance)?

I, and so many others, do so hope that you’ll reverse your decision and continue Andresen’s ShopGirl. Meanwhile we’ll enjoy her writing at MaineMaven.com.

Annetje L. Meyer

Corea

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Republicans for workers

One thing Kevin Miller didn’t mention in his excellent article on how increased union membership would boost Maine’s economy (“Report: Unions could aid Maine economy, workers,” BDN, Feb. 20) was that state Rep. Jim Campbell, a Republican, was there to offer his support for the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill in Congress that would make the process of organizing a union easier and fairer.

Too often issues are broken down between Democratic and Republican positions, and that’s a shame. The Employee Free Choice Act should not be viewed through a partisan lens. It should be viewed as a bill that can lift up Maine’s workers and help generate the badly needed consumer spending that would inject millions of dollars into our state’s economy.

In his career in the Legislature, Rep. Campbell has always stood up for the little guy. That is just what the Employee Free Choice Act would do. As a former union member himself, he knows firsthand what unions can do to help workers earn better wages, get affordable health care and build a secure retirement. I commend Rep. Campbell for his support of the Employee Free Choice Act and hope that Maine’s senators in Congress will follow his example.

William Rice

Trenton

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Flag photo in bad taste

I find Kevin Bennett’s photo of ceremonial flag burning from the BDN’s Feb. 27 article on the VFW Post 4917 closure in horrific taste and a mockery of the ceremony. While many residents may not be aware that the preferred method for retiring used and tattered U.S. flags is by burning (Federal Flag Code, Public Law: 94-344), the photo fails to capture the essence of the service.

Photos of U.S. flags burning while bystanders snap photos and mill about with backs turned toward the flags portrays disrespect. In a service described in your own article as “emotional … with aging veterans saluting or holding hands over their hearts,” I suspect there was no shortage of photo opportunities that would more accurately portray the moment. The photo chases “shock effect” imagery of burning U.S. flags and sadly misrepresents the ceremony, local veterans and memories of those that have defended those colors.

Jason Stoner

Orono

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