Calais LNG to get ruling from state

Posted Aug. 11, 2010, at 7:09 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Calais LNG is expected to find out today whether state regulators will grant the company another month to line up a new financial partner or, instead, will request that the firm withdraw its application.

Last month, Calais LNG informed the Maine Board of Environmental Protection that GS Power Holdings LLC — a subsidiary of the global investment firm Goldman Sachs Group Inc. — was looking to sell its financial interest in the project to a new partner.

At the time, Calais LNG’s attorney said the company expected either to have a new investor in place by Aug. 11 or to withdraw its application with the BEP. But on Tuesday, the company sought another extension through Sept. 11.

“Calais LNG and GS Power Holdings LLC are actively engaged in negotiations with potential financial partners,” attorney David Van Slyke wrote in a letter to BEP chairwoman Sue Lessard. “Despite these efforts, however, negotiations have not progressed as far as Calais LNG had hoped and additional time beyond the Aug. 11, 2010, deadline is necessary.”

BEP staff said Wednesday that Lessard is expected to announce her decision today.

Calais LNG is seeking state and federal approval to build a liquefied natural gas facility on a 330-acre site along the St. Croix River and Passamaquoddy Bay. The third proposal of its kind for Passamaquoddy Bay in recent years, the Calais LNG project has both strong supporters and vocal opponents in Down East communities.

Canadian officials have opposed all three of the LNG proposals on safety and environmental grounds and have threatened to prevent tankers from passing through Canadian waters en route to the terminals.

The BEP had been scheduled to hold a week of public hearings on the Calais LNG project in late July, but reluctantly agreed to postpone the meetings at the company’s request.

Tuesday’s request for another extension prompted more official complaints from the parties involved in the BEP’s review of the Calais LNG application.

The Conservation Law Foundation, the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission and the group Save Passamaquoddy Bay all filed letters urging Lessard to hold Calais LNG to the company’s original statement that it would withdraw its application unless a new investor was identified by Aug. 11.

“Simply put, the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission believes that Calais LNG was not and is not ready to support its application before the board, and does not have the funding to carry out the project for which it seeks approval,” wrote Ronald Beckwith Jr., the commission’s superintendent and executive secretary.

Officials with Calais LNG could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

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