As part of its reporting on the Wind Energy Act of 2008, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting filed a state public records request, called an “FOAA request,” which stands for Freedom of Access Act.

However, the Center never received much of the material it requested from the state because the cost was prohibitive: $36,239.52.

That’s what the state Public Utilities Commission wanted from the Center to search for e-mails from 2005 to 2007 between then-PUC Chairman Kurt Adams and any representatives of wind company First Wind (where Adams took a job after leaving the PUC); between Adams and Gov. John Baldacci, for whom Adams had previously worked as legal counsel; and between Adams and several prominent wind power attorneys employed by the law firm of Verrill Dana.

The Center wanted those e-mails because Adams’ input had been crucial to the deliberations of the governor’s wind power task force.

Initially, PUC attorney Joanne B. Steneck told the Center that a search of backup discs containing e-mail records for the period prior to January 2008 could be done for a cost of upward of $10,000.

The Center then asked for a waiver of the $10,000 cost, under provisions in the state’s FOAA that allow waivers to be granted for noncommercial use of public information.

The PUC refused to grant the waiver and revised the estimate of the cost for the Center to get the information to $36,239.52.