April 1, 2012

Wind farm loan wasn't a mistake, King says

The U.S. Senate candidate rebuts GOP claims that a federal loan for Record Hill in Roxbury was too risky an investment.

By Jonathan Riskind jriskind@mainetoday.com
Washington Bureau Chief

(Continued from page 1)

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House Republicans contend, among other things, that the turbine technology used by Record Hill isn’t truly innovative and therefore didn’t actually meet federal lending standards.

The Associated Press

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Angus King says taxpayers and consumers already are reaping benefits from the electricity being generated by the Record Hill wind project.

File photo by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Regardless of the political storm raging over the Solyndra bankruptcy and the rest of the loan guarantee program, King says the Record Hill project met all of the Department of Energy's criteria.

"They (House Republicans) took issue with every single loan done under this program," King said. "I don't take it as being critical of us. We followed the regulations. And in our case it was an exhaustive process" of about 20 months to persuade DOE to extend the loan guarantee.

DOE gave preliminary approval for the loan guarantee in March 2011 and final approval in August 2011.

In the midst of the approval process, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, wrote a brief letter of support to DOE, as did many lawmakers around the country in support of alternative energy projects in line for federal loan guarantees, saying that project "has received all necessary local and state permits."

Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority share owner of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

"The project will create a new source of renewable energy and provide for hundreds of good paying construction jobs," Pingree wrote, in a letter first reported on last week by the Maine Wire.

King said he didn't want to go to Washington – if he wins the seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine – as a senator tied financially to an energy company.

"I left a substantial investment on the table," King said, saying his potential personal loss from divesting in Independence Wind was "well into the six figures."

He wouldn't have divested if he hadn't decided to run for Senate, King said.

The House oversight committee's investigation of the entire loan guarantee program remains ongoing, a spokesman for the GOP part of the committee said.

Independent Wind's Gardiner says he isn't worried about what the investigation might turn up.

"The criticisms leveled at Record Hill wind were not worrisome for us at all," Gardiner said. "The project is up and running and we are paying back the note as planned. There is no taxpayer concern at all."

Washington D.C. Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:

jriskind@mainetoday.com

 

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