MEMA Randoms
Nov. 5, 2014

Summit Natural Gas is cutting safety corners
Morning Sentinel
A report was released recently by the state of Maine Public Utilities Commission to the Summit Natural Gas president addressing a number of violations the company has made, including puncturing multiple sewer lines and suggesting a penalty be enacted. The gas safety staff, through their series of investigations throughout the state, recorded that at "26 locations, Summit Natural Gas of Maine failed to expose existing underground facilities and provide adequate clearance between those facilities when installing mains by trenchless technology" and recommend a series of corrective actions, in addition to a $150,000 penalty.More

Letter: Summit needs to keep promises
The Forecaster
I was skeptical when a representative from Summit Natural Gas said I would have gas by Nov. 1, but I decided to put my faith in the company. After all, they were generating excitement and taking pictures with community leaders. Surely, they would keep their commitment. I, like everyone else, received the emails with reports of progress in my town. I even received a letter at some point saying Summit was on track for Nov. 1. Momentarily, I felt relief.More

Utilities, contractors should pay for damage to roads they cause
Morning Sentinel
How long are roads expected to last? Morgan Street has been overlaid once in 50 years. It is scheduled to be reconstructed in 2019. The street would still be usable were it not for the ruts left by excavation done by the utilities and contractors. Several years ago, Pleasant Street and Eustis Parkway were redone. Within months, Pleasant was carved up and now has several major patches. Mayflower Hill was done last year and already has some cracks and patches.More

Can't fix 1970s energy policy without overhauling 1920s shipping policy
The Hill
It's 1920. Warren G. Harding was nominated by the Republican Party for president. We were five years from the sinking of the Lusitania and two years from WWI. At the time, influenced by an 1887 book written by Capt. Alfred Thayer Mahan, naval supremacy was viewed as the key to the modern world. In response and to facilitate domestic shipbuilding, the Jones Act was signed into law in 1920 and remains the law of the land. It requires that cargo shipped between two U.S. ports be transported on a ship built in the U.S., owned by U.S. citizens and crewed by at least 75 percent of U.S. citizens. This historical context is important as we begin a debate over whether the 1970’s-era crude oil export ban should be lifted. More

Coalition plans advertising campaign backing projects such as Tennessee Gas Pipeline
Daily Hampshire Gazette
With higher electricity costs scheduled to kick in for National Grid customers, a recently created "Coalition to Lower Energy Costs" is planning a media campaign, backed by large industrial electricity users — and organized by lobbyists connected to pipeline proponent Kinder Morgan — pushing for support of projects such as the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline. The coalition was organized Oct. 8 by a group that includes general counsel and spokesman Anthony Buxton, a Maine-registered lobbyist who works for the law firm Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau & Pachios, based in Portland, Maine. More

Maine PUC votes to review proposals for new natural gas pipelines
Portland Press Herald
The state Public Utilities Commission voted 2-1 on Oct. 30 to move forward on a possible natural gas pipeline expansion in Maine, which could help control high electricity costs by increasing supplies to gas-fired power plants during the winter. Critics say that benefit isn't worth the cost of as much as $75 million a year that customers may need to pay to subsidize the project.More

Lift ban on exporting crude oil
Morning Sentinel
Politicians have stoked fears that lifting a 1970s ban on exporting U.S. crude oil would increase gasoline prices at home. Recently, the Government Accountability Office said they are wrong. U.S. crude oil production is booming. The country is producing nearly 70 percent more crude than it did in 2008. The nation also boasts some of the world's most advanced refineries. So why not keep all that crude here, refine it in U.S. facilities and sell it to Americans at a discount?More

Newington denies Portsmouth's rehearing request
Portsmouth Herald
The Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously voted to reject the city of Portsmouth's request for a rehearing on their appeal of the Planning Board's decision to approve the expansion plan for the Sea-3 propane terminal. Board member Ralph Estes recently stated that he didn't see anything in Portsmouth's request for a rehearing that prompted him to vote for one. More

Maine's investment in natural gas expansion raises questions
Portland Press Herald
The natural gas pipeline expansion now under consideration by the state Public Utilities Commission could relieve a bottleneck that spikes energy prices during winter cold snaps, giving a boost to commercial users. It also could leave ratepayers on the hook for as much as $1.5 billion. Which way it goes depends on the interplay of a number of complex factors that the state must consider closely before approving such an expensive, and unprecedented, project.More

Why does Saudi Arabia seem so comfortable with falling oil prices?
Maine Public Broadcasting
Oil prices continue to tumble: down about 25 percent since mid-June to a four-year low, and many analysts believe there is no end in sight. While that's good for consumers and most businesses in the U.S., the falling price is bad for oil-exporting countries such as Russia, Venezuela, Iran and Iraq. And blame — or credit — for the plummeting prices is falling squarely on Saudi Arabia. More

Oil drops significantly; heating oil prices continue their downward slide
The Governor's Energy Office conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Oct. 27 and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $3.16 per gallon, dropping another 8 cents. The average statewide price for kerosene, $3.73 per gallon, is 6 cents a gallon less than last week. Propane prices continue to remain steady; the statewide average price dropped a penny to $2.83 per gallon for heating customers. Prices for heating oil have dropped 34 cents since July, bucking a historical upward trend during that seasonal period. More

Conservation groups fret about proposed Canadian oil pipeline's impact on St. John Valley
Bangor Daily News
Four conservation groups said Oct. 30 that they are launching a campaign to warn northern and eastern Maine residents about possible environmental harms from a $10.8 billion crude oil pipeline proposed by TransCanada. The announcement came in response to the company's filing of a formal application to build North America's largest and longest crude oil pipeline, with a combination of new and existing pipelines that would transport tar sands oil west from the oil-rich province of Alberta.More

Cheniere's Sabine Pass terminal nearing finish line
Fuel Fix
Along a remote stretch of Louisiana coastline, roseate spoonbills and snowy egrets share the skyline with more than 120 construction cranes. Every day, 67 buses parade down a two-lane asphalt highway bordered by thickets of river cane and the Sabine River channel. They crawl past pastel tinted fishing camps to deposit hundreds of welders, machinists and pipe fitters to the construction site of Sabine Pass LNG, slated to become the first large-scale plant decades to ship supercooled gas from the lower 48 states to hungry markets overseas.More

Farmington, Madison switch seven school buses to propane
Morning Sentinel
A half dozen buses in central Maine are now running on liquid propane — a cheaper, quieter and comparatively greener fuel source that's rare but catching on. Madison and Farmington based school districts received grants this school year to switch a total of seven buses to take propane. A Madison business, Bob's Cash Fuel, received a town grant to help build a fueling station to cater to buses and anyone else who adopts the fuel.More

UMF: Gas company not committing to Farmington line by 2016
Franklin Sun Journal
The University of Maine at Farmington has received notice from Summit Natural Gas of Maine that the company is unable to commit to providing natural gas to UMF by 2016, according to a statement released recently. "In light of Summit's decision, UMF will continue to explore alternative energy sources in its commitment to find the most viable fuel supply for the needs of the campus and economic development of the region," UMF President Kathryn A. Foster said in the release. More

Massachusetts town introduces proposal to ban tobacco
The town of Westminster in central Massachusetts would become the first community in the state, and perhaps the nation, to ban all tobacco sales. According to the proposal, recently made public, sales of products containing tobacco or nicotine, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco and even electronic cigarettes, would be prohibited. Not surprisingly, the plan has infuriated local store owners, who are circulating petitions to block the action, saying it's unfair to ban sales of a legal product. They also have expressed concern that ban would drive them out of business and simply send people to nearby communities for their tobacco products. More