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Two Maine electric utilities agree to merge

Two of Maine's larger electric utilities would merge under an agreement announced Friday, increasing the impetus for a north-south power transmission line for wind farms. In a deal valued at about $108 million, BHE Holdings Inc., parent company of the state's second-largest electric utility, Bangor Hydro Electric Co., plans to buy Maine & Maritimes Corp., which owns Maine Public Service Co., the state's third-largest electricity provider.

The merger could help lead to a north-south power transmission line for Maine wind farms.

Two of Maine's larger electric utilities would merge under an agreement announced Friday, increasing the impetus for a north-south power transmission line for wind farms.

In a deal valued at about $108 million, BHE Holdings Inc., parent company of the state's second-largest electric utility, Bangor Hydro Electric Co., plans to buy Maine & Maritimes Corp., which owns Maine Public Service Co., the state's third-largest electricity provider.

The two utilities would retain their separate names, and their rates would continue to be established separately. Customers would not see any immediate changes after the merger, officials said.

Bangor Hydro Electric has about 115,000 customers in eastern and central Maine. Maine Public Service Co. has 36,000 customers in far northern Maine. Central Maine Power Co., with 600,000 customers, is the state's largest utility.

In the long term, the merger could provide the "financial wherewithal" to move forward with a power transmission line linking northern and southern Maine, said Brent Boyles, president and CEO of Maine & Maritimes.... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The merger could help lead to a north-south power transmission line for Maine wind farms.

Two of Maine's larger electric utilities would merge under an agreement announced Friday, increasing the impetus for a north-south power transmission line for wind farms.

In a deal valued at about $108 million, BHE Holdings Inc., parent company of the state's second-largest electric utility, Bangor Hydro Electric Co., plans to buy Maine & Maritimes Corp., which owns Maine Public Service Co., the state's third-largest electricity provider.

The two utilities would retain their separate names, and their rates would continue to be established separately. Customers would not see any immediate changes after the merger, officials said.

Bangor Hydro Electric has about 115,000 customers in eastern and central Maine. Maine Public Service Co. has 36,000 customers in far northern Maine. Central Maine Power Co., with 600,000 customers, is the state's largest utility.

In the long term, the merger could provide the "financial wherewithal" to move forward with a power transmission line linking northern and southern Maine, said Brent Boyles, president and CEO of Maine & Maritimes. Such a line would provide a conduit for energy produced by wind farms in northern Maine to reach customers elsewhere in New England.

"It makes a stronger opportunity for transmission to be built in northern Maine," Boyles said.

Maine Public Service and CMP partnered two years ago on a proposal to build a 150-mile transmission line for more than $600 million to link northern Maine to the New England regional grid.

Regulators dismissed the proposal last year, but CMP and Maine Public Service have been discussing building a shorter, less-costly transmission line that would be paid for by wind-power companies that would use the lines, Boyles said.

BHE Holdings, a subsidiary of Emera Inc. of Halifax, Nova Scotia, offered to buy Maine & Maritimes for $45 a share in cash -- a 40 percent premium over the stock's closing price Thursday. BHE would assume $31 million in debt now owed by Maine & Maritimes, Boyles said.

The merger is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, which is expected to take six to eight months.

There are no plans for Maine Public Service Co. to join the regional New England power grid; it is now connected to a grid in neighboring New Brunswick.


Source: http://www.pressherald.com/...

MAR 13 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/25129-two-maine-electric-utilities-agree-to-merge
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