March 19, 2018
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PUC turns down commissioner’s move to release energy forecasts

By Darren Fishell, BDN Staff

PORTLAND, Maine — Two Maine Public Utilities Commission members voted against the motion of outgoing commissioner David Littell to release energy forecasts the PUC will use to assess long-term contracts for wind power and natural gas capacity.

The Associated Press reported Chairman Mark Vannoy and commissioner Carlisle McLean, both LePage appointees, voted against the recommendation of Baldacci appointee Littell, arguing the commission does not release its forecasts to bidders and should not release those forecasts to the public.

Littell first made the motion during an April 14 meeting, bringing into the public session a problem he said he raised internally before.

“I think it would be beneficial for the public to see those,” Littell said at the April 14 meeting.

Internal emails filed with that case reveal several exchanges following that meeting, wherein Littell wrote he would like the commission to get outside input on forecasts from London Economics International and oil industry analysts IHS Energy.

“I would like the benefit of outside comment on these projections and the public to understand what the Commission thinks of future prices,” Littell wrote.

The AP reported Vannoy said he would be open to possibly releasing portions of forecasts in the future.

Littell sought to release publicly spreadsheets showing forecasts for electricity and natural gas price projections at international hubs and in the United States and estimates of the difference in natural gas prices between those hubs and the Henry Hub in Louisiana, according to emails in the docket.

Littell expressed concern Monday about being able to see through the long-term wind contracting case to its end after Gov. Paul LePage’s announcement he nominated University of Tennessee economist Bruce Williamson to fill Littell’s seat on the commission.

A date for hearing that nomination before the Legislature’s energy committee had not been set Tuesday.

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