The Maine Public Utilities Commission approved the sale of Emera Maine to Canadian energy company ENMAX on Tuesday. Approval of the $1.3 billion deal comes after the commission rejected a proposal to finalize the sale of Maine’s second largest electric utility earlier this month.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the deal, citing changes made to an earlier proposal the commission rejected by a 2-1 vote on March 5.
The changes include: an extension on how long ENMAX must wait before it can raise customer rates, an increase in rate credits for customers, service quality measures the company must meet for three years and tougher restrictions on dividends paid out to the company’s sole shareholder, the Canadian city of Calgary, Alberta.
The changes “do not reduce all risk,” commission Chair Phil Bartlett said. They do, however, “reduce the risk to Emera customers while also increasing the benefits,” Bartlett said.
The approval comes a year after Emera, which is also based in Canada, reached a deal to sell subsidiary Emera Maine to ENMAX.
The settlement approved by the PUC on Tuesday was negotiated by ENMAX and Emera Maine, as well as the Maine Office of the Public Advocate and other nearby electric utilities, including Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative and Houlton Water Company. ND Paper, which owns mills in Old Town and Rumford, also signed on to the agreement.
“ENMAX has made a significant, long term commitment to Emera Maine’s customers, employees and Maine communities,” Gianna Manes, ENMAX President and CEO, said in a statement. “With this approval, we are looking forward to a smooth transition of ownership.”
The company added that the deal is expected to close within the next week and that Emera Maine will continue to operate as a “stand-alone” company in Bangor.