Maine eyes lower ratepayer costs from increased electric integration with Canada
- There is already one transmission line planned to bring clean energy into New England from Quebec, through Maine, and others have been proposed. Maine Gov. Paul LePage sees an opportunity to lower costs for his state's consumers, and has opened an inquiry into possible methods.
- "High level papers" are due to the governor's office by the end of June, according to a May 22 statement from the governor's office. After a review, the administration said it will "identify concepts for further development."
- After some road bumps in the selection process, Massachusetts earlier this year tapped Central Maine Power to construct a new transmission line from Quebec, through Maine to the New England Grid.
LePage announced the inquiry last week in a radio address, and this week issued a statement and authored an op-ed in The Maine Wire. The state is self-reliant when it comes to electricity and gets much of its power from green sources, but new transmission lines could soon bring more renewable energy, primarily hydroelectricity from Canada.
LePage directed the Governor's Energy Office to work with the Public Utilities Commission and the Public Advocate, in developing a report on what issues Maine should consider "in this changing energy world." He asked the state's electric and gas utilities, along with consumer electricity groups, to address the issue, too.
Also invited to weigh in: ISO New England, Northern Maine Transmission Corporation and the North American Electric Regulatory Council.
LePage laid out several questions to focus on, including what efficiencies and cost savings could be gained through better integration of electric grids in Maine with neighboring Canadian provinces, and what obstacles might exist.
In the op-ed, LePage also focused on natural gas.
"We also need to determine how Canada can assist in the supply of natural gas to Maine," he wrote. "Massachusetts is blocking our ability to increase natural gas capacity to Maine. If we cannot get more natural gas from the south, we should look to our neighbors to the north and the ocean to the east."
The comment about Massachusetts was an apparent reference to Enbridge's Atlantic Bridge project, which was blocked by Weymouth, Mass.
Five companies last year responded to Massachusetts' Clean Energy Request For Proposals to help utilities procure 9,450,000 MWh of renewable energy. All of the proposals included building transmission to move hydropower from Canada, but Central Maine's proposal was not the state's first choice.
Eversource Energy's Northern Pass line was selected in January to help Massachusetts meet its clean energy goals by delivering hydropower from Quebec, but the project was rejected by New Hampshire regulators.
- The Maine Wire Maine has an exciting opportunity to reduce energy costs
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