Library filed under Transmission from Maine
Maine's ambitious goal of cutting carbon out of its economy by the mid-21st century is facing a harsh reality: The network of wires and substations built to feed power from central generating stations to homes and businesses isn't up to the job of handling the two-way, intermittent flow of energy from solar and wind farms to electric vehicles, heat pumps and giant storage batteries.
The court granted a temporary injunction sought by opponents ordering the company to stop work on the entirely new section of the proposed line until judges can review a legal dispute related to it. That effectively stopped work on that part of the corridor until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit takes further action.
In court papers Monday, the developer says access road plowing started Monday and construction is expected to begin on or about Jan. 18.
Corporate Surrogates for Massachusetts have spent close to $17 million so far battling a referendum question in Maine that seeks to block the importation of hydroelectricity from Quebec using a power line running through wilderness areas in the western part of the state.
Another potential barrier to Central Maine Power Co.’s proposed $1 billion hydropower corridor through western Maine was removed Tuesday when the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled against a challenge to a regulator’s approval of the project.
One bill, L.D. 1383, would have required electric utilities to obtain approval from local governments before using eminent domain to take private land for transmission line projects. Supporters failed to garner the two-thirds majority needed to overturn Mills’ veto in the House on a 79-64 vote.
Representatives of NextEra said the regulatory commission should have required CMP to analyze alternatives to the project to mitigate negative environmental effects. The appeal was made to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which will set the schedule to hear the case, according to the commission’s spokesman, Harry Lanphear.
“There’s basically no benefit to Maine, there’s no amount of money worth this kind of massive destruction. It would change the brand of Maine. There would be multiple negative impacts including to tourism, the environment,” she says. “These towers are 100 feet tall,” says opponent Matt Wagner.
Franklin County residents and elected officials will have the opportunity Monday night to question Central Maine Power Co. authorities about a proposed Quebec-to-Massachusetts power line that would run through six towns and about 33 miles of the county.
Representatives of five transmission projects proposed in July in response to the Massachusetts solicitation for 9.45 TWh/year of hydro and Class I renewables (wind, solar or energy storage) tried to explain why their projects should be among those selected in January. Contracts awarded under the MA 83D request for proposals are to be submitted in late April.
Massachusetts’ demand for clean energy has drawn interest from several companies hoping to win lucrative contracts to transmit wind and hydro power from Maine, Atlantic Canada and Quebec. The utilities National Grid, Eversource and Unitil, along with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, are considering dozens of bids, including Maine-based proposals that would entail overland transmission lines and at least two undersea cables running through the Gulf of Maine to the Bay State.
Evans-Brown says opponents want to know why their scenery should become the pass-through for Massachusetts' electricity needs, "people who have businesses that would be impacted by the construction, and who believe they're business depends on tourists coming up to visit. There's a very famous pancake parlor that the owner came and gave very impassioned testimony."
The New York utility wants to partner with a group of energy developers called Maine Power Express LLC to build a 630-megawatt wind facility in Penobscot and Aroostook counties. New York energy giant Con Edison hopes to partner with developers of new Maine wind farms to deliver power to Boston through a bid process under consideration in Massachusetts.
The project cost is confidential, but CMP has confirmed that it’s in the $1 billion range. The total cost would be paid by Massachusetts electric customers. ...It’s also possible that a similar line being proposed by CMP and a partner could carry power from new solar and energy-storage projects in western Maine, as well as wind turbines on both sides of the border.
Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association, has compiled figures to show transmission rates in the region already are five times higher than they were in 2005. During that period, he said, wholesale electric rates have fallen by 48 percent. That drop is tied to the lower cost of natural gas, which is used to generate half the power supplied by members in Dolan’s association.
RUMFORD — Voters repealed the town's five-year-old wind development ordinance at the annual town meeting Tuesday, 571-452.
Energy officials and industry representatives in Maine were tamping down impressions that all or even most of these projects would be built. “I’ve been trying to get the public prepared for this and not think that all of these projects will be developed,” said Patrick Woodcock, Gov. Paul LePage’s energy director. “In fact, under the request-for-proposals, it’s not even possible for all of them to be chosen.”
New England’s most populous states are looking to tap Canadian dams and rivers for more of their electricity, a change that officials say would help cut greenhouse-gas emissions and help keep some of the nation’s highest power prices in check.
With the decision Tuesday, the commissioners decided to move into a second phase in the case, considering the longer-term questions about the northern Maine regional grid. That includes whether there’s any benefit to ratepayers from connecting transmission lines in the area to the New England power grid, something that wind developers in the area might seek in order to reach the regional ISO-New England market.
Huskilson told analysts that Emera Maine is working with Central Maine Power Co. on a proposed transmission upgrade that would allow more wind power and other energy to be transported from northern Maine and Canada.