Um, wow….that’s a steep price for some e-mail!

The Maine Public Utilities Commission has apologized for asking a journalism organization for $36,000 to see e-mails of the commission’s former chairman.

The current chairman of the commission sent a letter Wednesday to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting explaining that a subsequent review of the state’s computer system showed that the actual cost of retrieving the e-mails was $160 — 16 hours work at $10 per hour.

Jack Cashman, chairman of the PUC, said he would waive even that amount and provided the requested e-mails to the center at no cost “because of the history of this issue.”

On April 21, the center released a report, which was published in a dozen Maine daily and weekly newspapers, about former PUC chairman Kurt Adams leaving his state job to take a top position with the private wind energy firm, First Wind. The requested e-mails were part of the research into a possible second story.

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