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Public advocate: Summit could fund Hallowell water rate hike
A local water rate case has raised a potentially novel question for Maine’s utilities industry: Should a utility help water districts pay for costs associated with monitoring their work?
Earlier this year, the Hallowell Water District proposed a 20 percent rate increase for most customers, saying it needed an extra employee to help monitor natural gas expansion in the city, being undertaken by Summit Natural Gas of Maine.
But the increase is now frozen after enough district customers signed a petition demanding the Maine Public Utilities Commission review the district’s finances.
South Portland moves a step closer to banning tar sands
City councilors suggested no significant alterations to proposed ordinance changes that would keep unrefined tar sands oil out of the city. A special, three-member Draft Ordinance Committee recently drafted the changes, which would prohibit "the bulk loading of crude oil" in South Portland.
Home Energy Savings Program stakeholder meeting
A workshop to present program results to date, discuss program guidelines and next year's marketing strategy, and solicit feedback will be held Wednesday, July 16, from 8 a.m.–12:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at The Governor Hill Mansion, 136 State Street, Augusta.
If you plan to attend, please send an email to Karen Bickerman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proposed tar sands ban gets standing ovation in South Portland
Portland Press Herald
The auditorium at Mahoney Middle School rocked with a standing ovation and cheers for a proposal that would block tar sands oil from coming into the city.
About 200 people, many of them wearing light blue “clear skies” T-shirts, attended a presentation on changes being recommended by the Draft Ordinance Committee.
The recommendations, to be considered by the City Council, would prohibit loading crude oil in bulk onto marine tank vessels and building or expanding facilities for that purpose. The proposal is much narrower in scope than the Waterfront Protection Ordinance that city voters rejected last November.
Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation reminds fuel dealers to register by June 30 if offering pre-paid home fuel contracts
Department of Professional and Financial Regulation
Commissioner Anne L. Head from Maine's Department of Professional and Financial Regulation highlighted the June 30th deadline for fuel dealers who offer pre-paid contracts to register with the Department. The registration form and general information can be obtained from the department's website.
Intended to provide greater protections to consumers who use pre-paid home heating contracts, LD 1895, An Act To Protect Consumers by Strengthening the Laws Governing Prepaid Home Heating Oil Contracts, became Public Law, Chapter 574, on March 30, 2012.
4-cent gas tax increase takes effect in New Hampshire
The Associated Press via Seacoast Online
A 4-cent tax in New Hampshire on gasoline and diesel fuel has taken effect, the first increase since 1991.
Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill in May that raises the tax as of July 1. It's still the lowest in New England.
The tax helps fund highway improvements for two years, then earmarks about half the proceeds to pay off $200 million in borrowing to finish the Interstate 93 expansion.
How a US decision to allow oil exports could change the world's energy balance
The Obama Administration has taken a bold step toward loosening the grip of tense geopolitics on oil prices, reports the Wall Street Journal, giving the first permission in four decades for the export of unrefined American oil. The decision — not made public but announced in the form of private letters from the U.S. Commerce Department to two oil companies, according to the paper — seems certain to cause a stir in global oil markets and perhaps send prices lower.
Heat pumps use no fossil fuels, little electricty to heat buildings
When all of the fossil fuel has been used up, we will need to get our energy from the sun. Why not do it now? It will probably cost less right now, and would put much less carbon pollution into the air. We would be better off to use solar energy to heat our buildings right now, instead of first investing a lot of money in a natural gas heating system for a few years, then paying additional money to build a solar energy heating system.
Napoleon recalls propane gas fireplaces
A joint recall with Health Canada, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission and Wolf Steel Ltd. has been issued for Napoleon GD3200 propane gas fireplaces model number GD3200-P flush glass front and GD3200B-P with bay window. The fireplace front panels are black with gold accent designs on the outside of the product. The model is identified on a rating label located on the base of the fireplace behind the lower access door.
Sea change: Efficient homes — you can get there from here
Portland Press Herald
As reports pour in of intolerable climate change – with Maine now leading the nation for the fastest rise in annual average temperature over recent decades – we clearly need to rethink what constitutes a “fine house” or even just a pretty good one.
It must be one that uses minimal energy to stay warm in winter and cool in summer, is close to carbon-neutral, and relies primarily on local and renewable resources.
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Consumers may have to wait for more secure credit cards
Despite the hacking theft of some 40 million debit and credit card numbers from Target Corp. last year, most banks say they are not yet ready to begin large-scale distribution of the more secure cards that are common in Europe, according to a Boston Globe article.
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