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GridSolar plan still a good alternative

Maine faces two starkly different choices about the future of its electrical system. On one hand is a plan by Central Maine Power to spend $1.5 billion on massive upgrades to the electric grid. This would make CMP's current "dumb grid" even bigger and dumber; ...On the other hand is an alternative proposal by GridSolar to build a smarter grid; one that is based on energy efficiency and clean, renewable power generated right here in Maine.

Whether it is a generation plan or a transmission utility, it would do more for Maine people than CMP's proposal.

Maine faces two starkly different choices about the future of its electrical system.

On one hand is a plan by Central Maine Power to spend $1.5 billion on massive upgrades to the electric grid. This would make CMP's current "dumb grid" even bigger and dumber; it would raise electric rates, steal away funds needed for energy efficiency and renewable power, and likely lead to increased pollution.

On the other hand is an alternative proposal by GridSolar to build a smarter grid; one that is based on energy efficiency and clean, renewable power generated right here in Maine.

A smart grid would cost less, reduce global warming pollution, create more jobs for Mainers, and help keep our electric rates lower.

In a recent editorial ("PUC made right call on GridSolar proposal," Nov. 25), however, this paper suggested that the Maine Public Utilities Commission ruled that the GridSolar plan was not a viable alternative to CMP's power line upgrade.

This is wrong. The PUC made no such finding. Indeed, in ruling that GridSolar is not a transmission and distribution utility,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Whether it is a generation plan or a transmission utility, it would do more for Maine people than CMP's proposal.

Maine faces two starkly different choices about the future of its electrical system.

On one hand is a plan by Central Maine Power to spend $1.5 billion on massive upgrades to the electric grid. This would make CMP's current "dumb grid" even bigger and dumber; it would raise electric rates, steal away funds needed for energy efficiency and renewable power, and likely lead to increased pollution.

On the other hand is an alternative proposal by GridSolar to build a smarter grid; one that is based on energy efficiency and clean, renewable power generated right here in Maine.

A smart grid would cost less, reduce global warming pollution, create more jobs for Mainers, and help keep our electric rates lower.

In a recent editorial ("PUC made right call on GridSolar proposal," Nov. 25), however, this paper suggested that the Maine Public Utilities Commission ruled that the GridSolar plan was not a viable alternative to CMP's power line upgrade.

This is wrong. The PUC made no such finding. Indeed, in ruling that GridSolar is not a transmission and distribution utility, Commissioner Reishus, chairwoman of the PUC, specifically noted that this "decision has no bearing on the CMP case, which will have hearings before the PUC beginning next month."

In point of fact, it does not matter whether GridSolar is a transmission utility, a generator, a smart grid or just a good idea. What matters is whether GridSolar is a better alternative for Maine than spending $1.5 billion on about 350 miles of new and expanded transmission lines.

And on this issue, the case for CMP's project grows weaker and weaker every day. Electric load in Maine this past summer was more than 15 percent below what CMP forecasted when it proposed the grid upgrade. Further, the load levels projected by CMP to occur in 2017 are now not projected to occur until 2028 or beyond. This and other facts led the staff at the PUC to conclude that more than half of the transmission upgrades CMP has proposed will not be needed in the next 10 years, if at all.

In addition, Maine is poised to distribute tens of millions of dollars to promote energy conservation that will further reduce electricity consumption. Everyone knows that there are enormous opportunities for additional energy conservation in Maine households and businesses. By facilitating these investments, load will fall further, thereby delaying the year in which any transmission upgrades will be required.

Finally, the real beneficiaries of the CMP plan will likely be Canada and southern New England -- not Maine. Hydro Quebec recently announced that it is purchasing New Brunswick Power to gain access to the New England energy markets. With CMP's upgrade, Hydro Quebec will be able to export cheap power from its massive new hydroelectric projects to energy-hungry markets in Boston and points south. That will leave renewable energy projects in Maine, including new wind and solar, on the sidelines.

In contrast, the case for GridSolar grows stronger and stronger each day. GridSolar's vision is to build solar arrays adjacent to and in step with growth in demand. Not only is this more efficient since it creates clean, cheap power for less than the cost of new power lines, it also allows Maine to invest in efficiency first, and only add new generation if and when it is needed.

Slower load growth only benefits this plan, since delays in the installation of solar generation allow GridSolar and Maine to take full advantage of falling solar generation costs resulting from improvements in the manufacturing of solar panels combined with improved solar technologies.

Even more importantly, the GridSolar project provides a platform for the development of a "smart electric grid" in Maine. That will create new job opportunities in Maine rather than in Canada, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the efficiency with which we all use electricity, and enable all consumers to be a part of the solution to meeting our future electricity needs at the lowest possible costs.

The PUC is holding a public hearing on the CMP plan the evening of Dec. 3 in Gorham. We encourage all Mainers who care about the future economic and environmental well-being of our state to tell the PUC that Maine's future lies in a smart grid and the GridSolar project, and not in spending $1.5 billion so that Hydro Quebec can create jobs in Canada building massive hydro projects to provide lower-priced electricity in Boston.

Richard Silkman is the co-founder of GridSolar LLC.


Source: http://pressherald.mainetod...

NOV 29 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/23348-gridsolar-plan-still-a-good-alternative
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