Articles from Maine
Maine’s largest-ever procurement of renewable-power contracts was hailed in September as a historic step on a path to reaching ambitious climate change goals. But today, those contracts are under fire from two dissatisfied developers.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved contracts for 17 renewable power projects on Sept. 22, including a 20-megawatt (MW) wind farm known as Silver Maple Wind in Clifton and a 100-MW solar project in Hancock known as Three Rivers Solar.
A 180-day moratorium ordinance to give the town of Belgrade time to update its ordinances related to development such as commercial solar and wind facilities, telecommunications towers and subdivisions is up for discussion.
A global clean-energy investment company is teaming up with a Falmouth-based solar development firm on plans to build a $100 million trio of utility-scale solar electric projects in Maine. The projects are part of a suite of seven large solar farms being developed in New England by D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments and North Light Energy. The three Maine projects would be built in Livermore Falls, Lewiston and Garfield Plantation, near Ashland.
The University of Maine will collaborate with New England Aqua Ventus LLC, which includes two global energy companies that are investing $100 million in the project. That investment comes on top of $47 million in grants already awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
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.
The business groups argue that halting the surcharges would provide some rate relief to both commercial and residential customers at a time when many are having financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. “We’re not looking to decimate these programs, but we are saying, ‘We’ve got to take a breather,’” said Doug Gablinske, executive director of the Energy Council of Rhode Island, which represents large energy users.
In deeper waters of the gulf, wind power will be achieved only with the use of floating turbines. The extensive anchoring and cabling that would be required means “lease areas will become de facto closures to fishing,” the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance wrote in an April 14 letter the governors of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Those types of disputes are “what we’re trying to avoid happening now,” said Annie Hawkins, executive director of the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, or RODA. The coalition of fishing stakeholders aims to get the industry on the same page as researchers and wind developers across the region. “We’re trying to make sure fishermen are much more involved in the process from day one,” Hawkins said. She’d like to see more work across state lines to coordinate policy and research.
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.
MACHIAS, Maine - A project to build dozens of new wind turbines around Washington County was approved by County Commissioners during a public hearing Monday afternoon in Machias.
More than 50 area residents, many of whom own property around Hopkins Pond (which straddles the Hancock and Penobscot County lines north of Mariaville and Otis), ventured to the Clifton town office on Monday evening to voice their displeasure with a proposal to erect five wind turbines on Pisgah Mountain.
Because the wind project will be visible from homes around Schoodic Lake, the agreements include a one-time payment of $350,000 to property owners there, for the purpose of property improvements, he said. The project will be visible from other vantage points in Columbia and the unorganized territories.
A total of 30 wind turbines would be spread out over that area on tracts of private land for which Apex has obtained 30-year leases. The turbine hubs will stand 410 feet tall and will be 656 feet total from base to the turbine tip. Approximately eight of the turbines will be in Columbia on land located off Route 1 in the 4 Corners area.
If a deal between Avangrid and PPL goes through, a small state like Maine could lose even more influence over utility operations under what would be one of the nation's largest energy companies, analysts say.
State regulators have approved a long-term power contract for a wind energy development planned for Hancock County. The Maine Public Utilities Commission on Friday unanimously supported a contract under which Emera Maine will pay Weaver Wind LLC 3.5 cents/kWh with increases of 2.5 percent annually, commission officials said in a release.
Despite earlier opposition, the RPS bill won support from industrial power customers, following an amendment that allows them to opt out of the requirement. Paper mills and other large, energy-intensive manufacturers had warned at a hearing last month that increasing the renewable portfolio standard could lead to higher costs for them and threaten their ability to compete.
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.
Maine Title 35-A details the mission of the PUC: “The basic purpose of this regulatory system as it applies to public utilities subject to service regulation under this Title is to ensure safe, reasonable and adequate service, to assist in minimizing the cost of energy available to the State’s consumers and to ensure that the rates of public utilities subject to rate regulation are just and reasonable to customers and public utilities.” Without answering the PUC’s questions (for example, where is the cable going to land?), how can the PUC judge if the rate that would be imposed by this legislation is not abusive to consumers?
A 22-turbine, $147.5-million wind farm project is one step closer to breaking ground after receiving approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on Friday. ...The company also has agreed to curtail the turbines during peak bat migration periods, and MDIFW has recommended that Longroad staff be required to record all bird and bat fatalities in an annual log and freeze the carcasses in plastic bags, if possible.