Maine Currents 11/11/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

(Part 2 of 2) Rockland 2015 is starting to sound a bit like Searsport 2012. A large out of state corporation has spun off a local-sounding LLC – Rockland Energy Center Limited Liability Corporation – and is proposing to build a gas plant in the city. Few specifics have been released, leaving Rockland residents with many unanswered questions. “Renew Rockland”, a group that describes itself as “local residents who have come together to respond to changing energy needs and concerns about our local environment” compiled unanswered questions collected at the few previous meetings where this issue has been discussed, and held a forum last week to try to address them. Panelists at the forum on “Rockland’s Energy Future” had expertise in engineering gas plants, alternative energy, climate change and health. The resulting discussion has implications far beyond Rockland.

Addendum: On Friday of last week the Bangor Daily News reported that city administrators met with representatives of the gas company on October 27th, just 2 days before this forum took place. As you’ll recall if you listened to part 1 of this special, one of the 1st questions that we asked at the forum was when was the last time the gas company was in contact with the city. City Councilor Larry Pritchett (who also serves on the city’s energy committee) responded “I think if you say ‘in contact’ you know, there’s been questions to city staff. There hasn’t been anything that looks like negotiations.” Stephen Betts of the BDN reported that the assistant city manager said city officials met with Rockland Energy on October 27th “to relay the concerns citizens had about issues such as emissions and noise. [The Asst City Mgr] said the city also informed the company that when it does submit its formal plans, the city will be hiring an independent party to review the proposal. She said the city would expect Rockland Energy Center to pay for that cost, and the company is amenable to that arrangement.” We asked City Councilor Larry Pritchett about this apparent discrepancy earlier today and he said he was unaware of the October 27th meeting and questioned the accuracy of the date as reported in the BDN. We attempted to reach the BDN reporter to confirm, but as of air time haven’t heard back. We’ll continue to follow up on this story.