Regulators deny Maine Public Service motion for protective order related to proposed Northern Maine reliability solution

Maine state regulators on Jan. 13 issued an order denying Maine Public Service’s (MPS) motion for a protective order related to information about its proposed plans to address reliability issues in Northern Maine.

Temporary protection is provided to information provided by Loring Holdings LLC to MPS on a confidential basis, the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) said.

Several parties filed timely oppositions to MPS’ motion, including Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative, Van Buren Light & Power, the state Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) and Central Maine Power (CMP). The PUC also said that it held a conference of counsel on Jan. 9 to hear arguments on the proposed motion.

Of the parties’ positions, the PUC noted that MPS requested the protection of its “analysis and cost estimates of the potential solutions to the reliability issues in Northern Maine and the comparison of options to (a) secure in-region generation through long term contracts; (b) strengthen transmission ties to New Brunswick and (c) connect Maine Public directly to the [ISO New England (ISO-NE)] transmission grid.”

Parties opposing the motion contended that the motion is too broad in simply referencing cost analysis, the type of material described as confidential information is not information that warrants protection, MPS does not make a showing of harm, and denying access to the parties is inconsistent with Maine statute and would prevent the parties from meaningfully participating in the case, the PUC said.

Of its decision, the PUC said that MPS has not met its burden of showing that cost analysis regarding possible solutions to reliability issues in Northern Maine is the type of information that should be subject to a protective order.

“MPS could not point to any certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) proceeding in which such analyses had been determined to be proprietary business information,” the PUC said. “Indeed, this information is the kind of information that is typically developed in a CPCN proceeding in order for the commission to evaluate both the need for the project and whether the proposed project is the most cost effective solution.”

In this case, MPS’ assertions that the cost analysis is analogous to bid information fails to meet its burden of showing that cost analysis and assumptions underlying that analysis is proprietary business information or trade secrets.

“The examiners conclude that the cost and project analysis that MPS seeks to protect does not constitute proprietary business information or trade secrets,” the PUC added. “Accordingly, such information should remain available not only to the parties in this proceeding but to the public.”

The PUC further noted that MPS sought protection for information supplied to it on a confidential basis by Loring. While it is not clear at this time exactly what information Loring provided, the examiners are aware that Loring will seek to file a protective order in the case and that a protective order was in place for certain Loring information in another docket.

Thus, the PUC added, protecting, on a temporary basis, information confidentially supplied to MPS by Loring will allow Loring to make its case for protection, the PUC said, adding that Temporary Protective Order No. 4 will be issued solely with respect to the information in MPS’ draft plan relating to Loring and solely on a temporary basis.

MPS is wholly owned by Emera. CMP is a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA, which is a subsidiary of Iberdrola S.A.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3155 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.