- Massachusetts utilities have signed contracts to purchase 9.45 million MWh of electricity from Hydro-Quebec each year, marking a major milestone in the development of the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission project, which will deliver the power.
- Central Maine Power will develop the project, which will add 1,200 MW of transmission capacity to supply New England.
- In Maine, however, there is a controversy brewing over CMP funding efficiency programs in Massachusetts, a requirement of developing the power line. Maine officials say they should be receiving similar assistance.
Massachusetts' plan to meet its clean energy goals with hydropower from Canada seems to keep generating controversy.
The initial plan was for Eversource Energy to develop a separate project, the Northern Pass line, but the project was rejected by New Hampshire regulators.
Massachusetts turned to a Maine utility, but the former state's requirements surrounding its clean energy goals and development of the line mandate the developer support energy efficiency efforts.
CMP will support Massachusetts efficiency to the tune of $50 million over a span of 40 years. Company officials told the Press Herald that it is required to make the payments, which will not be funded by ratepayers.
Maine’s Public Advocate Barry Hobbins called the arrangement "insulting" to Maine customers because CMP will provide Massachusetts with "benefits for low-income customers and Maine hasn’t been offered anything."
Hobbins has indicated he will be seeking a similar arrangement with CMP for Maine customers.
Proponents of the project say it will provide significant benefits beyond the efficiency funding. Utilities owned by Eversource, National Grid and Unitil will pay a total levelized price of $0.059/kilowatt hour for power from the Canadian hydro.
"The NECEC clean energy generation long-term contracts provide a highly cost-effective source of clean energy generation for Massachusetts customers" the companies told state regulators.
The Republican reports that could help cut customer bills by up to 4% and reduce the region's need for gas-fired generation.
CMP submitted applications for a $950 million NCEC transmission line with state and federal regulators in the middle of last year. The company is hoping to reive state approvals later this year and final federal permits in early 2019.