EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- The mill in East Millinocket may spring back to life soon. A bill designed to reinstate 200 or more jobs at the Great Northern Paper mill is now just a signature away from becoming law.
The Cate Street owned mill ceased production in late January and then laid off 212 employees the following month. Since then Governor LePage and other members of the legislature have been pushing to pass a bill that would allow the East Millinocket paper mill to re-open production and rehire the majority of its laid off workers.
The bill, would amend the 2002 state law that restricts mill's ability to power-shed. That's when it can power down and sell it's electricity back on the open market. The electricity is currently sold to the mill by the hydroelectric dam owner Brookfield Asset Management. Today the bill was unanimously approved by the Legislature and awaits only the signature of Governor Paul LePage. The Governor has ten days to take action on the bill. If he neither signs nor vetoes the bill, it becomes a law automatically. The bill's sponsor, Representative Steve Stanley, says he backed this bill because the people of East Millinocket deserve it.
"You're going to do whatever you can do to get the mill running and also, I live in the Medway area, which is part of the Millinocket, East Millinocket region, and I've seen what's going on in those three communities as far as the mill not running. And this is a very big concern because this isn't just about 200 jobs, this is about losing three communities," he said.
According to Rep. Stanley, this bill will be exclusive to the Great Northern Paper Mill. If another mill in Maine were to wind up in the same situation, that mill can use this bill as a guideline but still have to go through the motions of getting approval. Stanley hopes to get the East Millinocket paper mill up and running as soon as possible.