Thursday, October 17, 2013

Maine PUC chair recuses himself in Nestle Waters case

For those who have been following the strange case of Nestle Waters and the family controlled water utility in Fryeburg, Maine -- and remarkable conflicts of interest among the relevant regulators -- there was a new development I reported on in yesterday's Portland Press Herald.

Thomas Welch, chair of the PUC, has recused himself, effectively suspending proceedings on a proposed 25-to-40-year contract between the world's largest food and beverage company and the privately-held water utility. Welch had represented Nestle Waters in Fryeburg and other matters while an attorney at Pierce Atwood. Both of his fellow commissioners also had ties to the company, including fellow Pierce Atwood alum David Littell. The public advocate, who represents rate payers before the PUC, also worked at Pierce Atwood until earlier this year, and represented Nestle in the very proceedings at hand. (He and one commissioner had already recused themselves.)

This story has received some national attention, including a full segment on Al Jazeera America's prime time show "The Stream", in which I was an in-studio guest.The Stream followed up on the latest developments at their blog.

Enjoy the story.

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