PUC puts Nordic ahead of CMP ratepayers

The PUC’s 50-page decision last week noted that the upgrade to Section 80 of CMP’s Midcoast grid is needed “regardless of any new users.” This wording inaccurately implies that Nordic Aquafarms’ request to connect has nothing to do with the decision.

Through Docket 2011-00138, the addition of new non-transmission alternatives has allowed the Section 80 rebuild to remain a low priority, letting more pressing areas in Maine obtain upgrades first. Nordic’s request to connect is completely changing the PUC’s upgrade priorities.

Nordic’s own site suitability application ranked this site a “5 out of 5” for utilities, but in reality Nordic chose a site that would require it to provide its own power to control its project schedule and only connect to the grid in due time when it made sense for all CMP customers, but Nordic refused to do so.

When it was obvious that Nordic could not connect without destroying the goals of Docket 2011-00138, Nordic had a choice to find an alternative site in Maine to meet its demands, or be part of the docket solution to connect sooner in this location by providing NTAs. At the time, Nordic provided pictures of huge rooftop solar farms and discussed providing 4 MW of its auxiliary power back to the grid for “peak shaving.” Nordic could have followed through and cured its power availability fatal flaw assumptions with the proper power plant and renewable energy promised, but Nordic refused.

At the January Belfast Planning Board meeting Nordic made it official. It had no solar, no power to the grid, in fact, no net-metering connection at all. Instead CMP will upgrade the grid for Nordic’s normal load of 250,000,000,000 watts a year. The PUC justifies this upgrade for Nordic by noting “utilities are prohibited from unfairly discriminating between customers,” but Nordic is not yet a customer.

Nordic’s power demand is similar to 4 billion hours of 60-watt lightbulbs for regular ratepayers each year. Isn’t it discrimination to reprioritize upgrades to add a single, hypothetical future user (that is mired in litigation and has no official start date) over planned existing needs?

Michael Lannan, P.E.

Northport

Aim for a PFAS-free garden

As gardening season gets underway, I hope that home gardeners will be alert to the possible presence of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in fertilizer, topsoil and compost products that are made from sewage waste and sold in bags currently on some store shelves. Tests of dozens of products for home use, conducted by the Sierra Club and Ecology Center, identified PFAS in every product, and at levels that exceed a screening standard set for land application in our state. (Check the Sierra Club’s website to see their data.)

PFAS has been in the news lately as we find dangerous levels of these “forever chemicals” in Maine farm soils, drinking water, venison and now freshwater fish. Given their harmful health effects and persistence, many of us in government have been focused on getting them out of our environment, and helping those farmers whose soils and drinking water have been affected.

We also need to stop the sale of products, such as composts and fertilizers made from sewage waste, that contribute to the growing PFAS problem. This week the Maine Legislature continues debate on a number of PFAS-related bills, including LD 1911, which would put an end to the spreading of sludge, the most PFAS-laden form of sewage waste. If passed and enacted, the measure will also ban the sale of composts, topsoils and fertilizers made using biosolids.

Until that time, it stands to reason that we do not want to consciously continue to spread PFAS contaminants on any additional Maine land — including the backyard, school and community vegetable gardens in which many of us spend our spring days. As you select products to amend the soil, be sure your choices are safe by carefully checking labels — especially the “Guaranteed Analysis” section of the label. Don’t be taken in by marketing terms and unwittingly bring PFAS contaminants home. “Biosolids,” “residuals,” or “municipal waste” are all words for sewage waste, often touted as “natural,” “organic,” or “eco.”

Gardening season is underway. Reach out with any questions as we work together to keep our precious Maine soils as PFAS-free as possible.

Vicky Doudera

Camden

Editor’s note: Democratic state Rep. Vicky Doudera represents Camden, Rockport and Islesboro in the Maine Legislature.

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