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GridSolar project makes sense for Maine ratepayers

In a June 13 OpEd, "Maine power project will deliver," George Loehr, a consultant to Central Maine Power Co., argued that the $1.5 billion CMP has proposed to spend on its transmission grid is necessary to ensure that Maine's electric grid remains reliable. ...The point is whether or not spending $1.5 billion as CMP has proposed to spend it is a wise use of Maine ratepayer money.

In a June 13 OpEd, "Maine power project will deliver," George Loehr, a consultant to Central Maine Power Co., argued that the $1.5 billion CMP has proposed to spend on its transmission grid is necessary to ensure that Maine's electric grid remains reliable.

Sure, spending $1.5 billion will improve Maine's transmission grid. Spending $1.5 billion on just about anything will make it better. That's not the point. The point is whether or not spending $1.5 billion as CMP has proposed to spend it is a wise use of Maine ratepayer money.

Let's be clear about a few things. First, there is nothing wrong with CMP's transmission grid. Every year, CMP charges its ratepayers for maintenance on its grid. If a section of line needs repair, if a substation needs to be replaced, if a transmission tower is weak, if there is any problem whatsoever, CMP includes the money to fix it in its budget, the budget is approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the rates paid by ratepayers are increased. If there is now something wrong with CMP's grid, it is because CMP did something else with the money it collected from ratepayers.

Second, the $1.5 billion is not necessary for wind power to be developed in... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

In a June 13 OpEd, "Maine power project will deliver," George Loehr, a consultant to Central Maine Power Co., argued that the $1.5 billion CMP has proposed to spend on its transmission grid is necessary to ensure that Maine's electric grid remains reliable.

Sure, spending $1.5 billion will improve Maine's transmission grid. Spending $1.5 billion on just about anything will make it better. That's not the point. The point is whether or not spending $1.5 billion as CMP has proposed to spend it is a wise use of Maine ratepayer money.

Let's be clear about a few things. First, there is nothing wrong with CMP's transmission grid. Every year, CMP charges its ratepayers for maintenance on its grid. If a section of line needs repair, if a substation needs to be replaced, if a transmission tower is weak, if there is any problem whatsoever, CMP includes the money to fix it in its budget, the budget is approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the rates paid by ratepayers are increased. If there is now something wrong with CMP's grid, it is because CMP did something else with the money it collected from ratepayers.

Second, the $1.5 billion is not necessary for wind power to be developed in Maine. CMP's transmission grid was designed to handle Maine Yankee and the Wyman oil plant in Yarmouth, together 1,700 MW of generation. Maine Yankee is gone and the Wyman Plant hardly ever runs. So what's happening to all that transmission? It is being used by wind projects - projects such as Stetson Mountain and Beaver Ridge as well as those under development or proposed on Kibby Mountain and in Lee, Rumford, Dixmont, Carthage, Jackson and Thorndike, to name a few. In fact, if we add up all of the wind projects that have been proposed in Maine to date, the total would be only a small fraction of the amount of transmission capacity available.

The $1.5 billion is not because the CMP system is old, and it is not because it is needed for wind. No, CMP has proposed to spend $1.5 billion because it asserts that Maine's load is growing. Not all load, just load during peak hours. CMP asserts it needs more transmission to meet this load growth with generation from Canada. But, what if the generation were to be located in Maine, where Maine could reap the benefits of good jobs and property tax revenues? What if that generation were to be distributed in small increments throughout the state in those areas where peak load actually does grow? And, what if that generation were renewable generation from the sun and not nuclear, coal or natural gas power from eastern Canada? If this were to happen, there would be no need to spend $1.5 billion for more transmission lines in Maine; we could create thousands of permanent jobs in the new "green" economy right here in Maine for Maine residents. We could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equal to taking 100,000 cars off the road and we could benefit from lower-cost electricity from the sun as fossil fuel prices continue to increase.

This "what if" is not some distant future; it is here and now in the form of the GridSolar Project that we have filed with the Maine Public Utilities Commission as an alternative to the $1.5 billion CMP is proposing to spend.

Forty years ago, when CMP was wasting billions of dollars of Maine ratepayer money on Seabrook, they did not tell Mainers that there were scores of generation projects to be done in Maine - cogeneration projects in Maine's paper mills and biomass projects in Maine's rural towns, because these were not CMP's projects. Twenty years ago when CMP wanted desperately to build a transmission line to Hydro Quebec, it did not tell Mainers of the opportunities to conserve electricity or encourage them to do so, because they could not make any money if Mainers did conserve.

Today, CMP won't tell you about the GridSolar alternative, because it knows what will happen if it does. Maine ratepayers will say no to spending $1.5 billion on a project that will cost Maine jobs, take residents' land and more than triple CMP's income. Mainers know what we know - the GridSolar Project makes sense. Maine should be investing in renewable generation, energy conservation and a smart electric grid, not spending $1.5 billion on yesterday's technology.

Richard Silkman and Mark Isaacson are founding partners of GridSolar LLC. For more information, visit www.gridsolarme.com.


Source: http://www.bangordailynews....

JUN 23 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/20779-gridsolar-project-makes-sense-for-maine-ratepayers
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