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United States

Maine approves $1bn First Wind JV for second time

UNITED STATES: The joint venture between Emera and First Wind has been approved for a second time after the state's supreme court struck down the first assent.

First Wind operates a number of projects in Maine including Mars Hill
First Wind operates a number of projects in Maine including Mars Hill

Boston-based developer First Wind linked up with Canadian energy firm Emera in 2012 to own and operate wind projects in the US state of Maine. The agreement saw Emera invest more than $300 million for a 49% share in the venture, which initially had a 385MW portfolio, with a view to injecting up to $1 billion into new projects over a decade.

But the court found earlier this year that the Maine Public Utilities Commission's (MPUC) original approval of the deal two years ago was improper and ordered the regulator to look again at the joint venture. MPUC has now approved the joint venture for a second time with a 2-1 vote in favour.

The court raised fears that the joint venture was anti-competitive due to the transmission network - to which the joint venture's wind farms would have access - being owned and operated by Emera. It argued that since Emera operates parts of the grid and could favour generation from certain plants, including the wind projects being developed with First Wind, this could prove anti-competitive.

But the companies held throughout that because Emera does not own a controlling stake in the new power generation company, and the MPUC imposed conditions on the deal to insulate ratepayers from any adverse affect, the regulator had taken sufficient counterbalancing measures.

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