In early April, Central Maine Power customers packed two Public Utilities Commission hearings.

At issue are two new surcharges. One doubles the basic rate for all customers over the next five years. The other adds a fee that would target solar customers.

Now that solar power is almost barely affordable for a few customers, CMP is proposing obstacles to sustainable solar energy. This although Maine law specifically bans discrimination against customers with metered solar systems. Why is an illegal rate hike even being considered?

Each person lined up to state his or her case to Tom Welch, PUC chairman.

One solar customer was dismayed that instead of CMP buying back his extra unused energy, he was charged a fee for donating his unused power to the grid! Others objected to the fact that our electric power utility is owned by a foreign multinational – Iberdrola, a Spanish corporation.

Then there is the issue of Tom Welch.

In a law firm, a case cannot be opened until it is determined that there is no connection whatsoever between the lawyer, the firm and the opposing party.

Before becoming PUC chairman, Tom Welch spent his career at Pierce Atwood, the law firm that represents Iberdrola, the corporation that owns Central Maine Power! Isn’t this a conflict of interest?

Welch and the other Pierce Atwood transplants in Maine state government (Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patty Aho comes to mind) will probably go back through the revolving door to Pierce Atwood.

How can they make decisions that are fair regarding Iberdrola, Nestle/Poland Spring or any of the other Pierce Atwood clients that have buttered their bread so generously for so many years and will most likely do so in the future?

Linda Dumey


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