Monday, February 11, 2008

Maine Governor touts joint power production with New Brunswick

Seacoast Online

By Assocaited Press
February 09, 2008

AUGUSTA, Maine - Gov. John Baldacci steered away from American politics and talked about joint energy generation with Maine's neighboring province of New Brunswick in his weekly radio address.

The governor's comments come in advance of a scheduled visit to Maine on Tuesday by New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham, who will visit Bangor and then address a joint House-Senate session.

New Brunswick and Maine have signed a memorandum that sets into motion an analysis of the challenges and benefits to greater cooperation on energy production and transmission, Baldacci said.

"We have enormous potential for wind and tidal, hydroelectric and biomass, and we have ready access to a New England market that is hungry for 'green' power," Baldacci said. "We sit on the edge of the Boston-Washington market, and we have what millions of people need: lower-cost, reliable electricity."

Baldacci said Maine is now stuck in a situation which costs Maine money "for poor decisions in other states." Maine has been looking at the possibility of leaving the New England power grid and establishing power-swapping arrangements with Canadian provinces.

A draft report by the state Public Utilities Commission says the organization of the New England power grid is "fundamentally flawed" and that Maine could benefit from in-place changes, outright withdrawal or a new partnership.

Baldacci said he wants to strengthen and expand ties that already exist between the state and province.

In the Republican response to Baldacci's radio address, Assistant Senate Minority Leader Richard Rosen welcomes Graham to Maine.

Rosen, of Bucksport, said he hopes Maine's dealings with New Brunswick can move beyond the ceremonial and foster cooperation in business, agriculture, transportation and other areas. He proposed the creation of an ombudsman's position to deal with day-to-day issues between the two neighbors.

"Our relationship with New Brunswick is an important one," said Rosen. "We often seem to think that Maine is the end of the line, after all we are the only state to border just one other. But beyond Maine lies New Brunswick and the Maritimes and our relationship with them is just as important as our relationship with the Granite State."

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