What Every Maine Ratepayer Needs to Know

8/4/13

There's a problem with wind power in Maine

Inadequate transmission lines mean some power has to be kept off the grid. And ratepayers will likely bear the cost of future upgrades.

By Tux Turkel tturkel@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

Read the article here: http://www.pressherald.com/news/there-is-a-problem-withwind-power-i... and be sure to read the following background from last summer. This con has gone far enough and it's time the Governor uses his executive powers to come down hard on the con's artists.

FIRST REPORTED HERE ON 7/1/12 - the PPH on 7/23 has finally decided to touch.

 

On July 1, CMP customers suffered a 19.6% increase in electrical transmission rates. They did so rather unknowingly because to the best of our knowledge none of the state's newspapers thought this was news enough to write about -- to say nothing of connecting the dots with wind power in an investigative piece.

 

Here are just a few of the facts. Please consider jumping in and adding some of your own. If this state ever needed a CITIZENS' ratepayer group it is now. One comprised of thousands of citizens who want to lend their names to a true watchdog group to rein in the electricity industry in this state. An online petition might be a good first step also.

 

 - Transmission rates went up for CMP customers by 19.6% on July 1, 2012. That is a gigantic % increase. Anyone who tries to call it anything else or otherwise minimize it is either not paying attention or has an agenda.

 

“The major driver for these increases is the change in federally regulated transmission rates, which for CMP will increase by 19.6% and for BHE will increase by 12%”  http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=puc-pressreleas...

 

- As best we can tell, the newspapers in this state did not write one sentence on this gigantic increase affecting hundreds of thousands of ratepayers, including businesses - you know, those entities who we'd like to see start hiring again. Why they did not regard this as a needed service for their readers is a mystery.

 

- As acknowledged by the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) post below, "The July 1 rate increases reflect the costs of recent and ongoing transmission reliability upgrades".

 

- With regard to the 19.6% increase for CMP customers, the name of the primary driver is the so called "Maine Power Reliability Project" (MPRP) otherwise known as the $1.5 billion CMP upgrade.

 

- The MPUC announcement below seems to try to imply that it is not the MPUC that has had a hand in this but rather federal regulations. But that is hollow because what has wrought the causative CMP upgrade was its approval by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

 

- There were many who made incredibly valid arguments as to why the CMP upgrade was not needed. There were public hearings and some of the testimony can be read by downloading the following file:

MPRP_Selected_PUC_Public%20Hearings.zip

 

- MPUC staff raised objections, including a report saying the upgrade could be accomplished for far less than the $1.5 billion pricetag, $667 million to be exact. The Portland Press Herald reported on this in 2010 writing "Maine can have a reliable power grid for substantially less money, and with far fewer transmission towers and substations, than the $1.5 billion project Central Maine Power Co. is proposing, the staff of the Public Utilities Commission has concluded. In an analysis made available late Tuesday, the PUC staff said CMP has overstated and accelerated the need for its Maine Power Reliability Program, in part by using forecasts for growth in electricity use that have become outdated since the recession started."

The link to this is http://www.onlinesentinel.com/archive/report-cmp-overstates-need-fo...

But the MPUC commisioners ignored their staff's recommendation.

- Onetime Governor Baldacci chief counsel Kurt Adams was MPUC Chairman at the time the MPUC was working on the CMP upgrade. It was later learned that he had been interviewing for several months with a wind company, First Wind, whom he would eventually take a job with. While MPUC Chairman, he also took over $1 million in stock options from First Wind according to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting who wrote a several part investigative series on this which can be read at:

PUC chairman took equity stake in wind company

http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/puc-chairman-took-equity-stake-in-w...

 


and

First Wind SEC filing change questioned

http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/first-wind-sec-filing-change-questi...

 

and

Group asks AG to probe official of First Wind

http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/group-asks-ag-to-probe-official-of-...

 

Adams Investigation Finds No Conflict

http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/adams-investigation-finds-no-conflict/

 

 

- The job that Adams took at First Wind was Director of Transmission. You can't make this stuff up.  Adams still works at this company which is the most active wind developer in the state. This is the company whose chief outside counsel, Verrill Dana's Juliet Browne, is married to Maine state representative Jon Hinck who sits on the Energy and Utilities Committee which last year killed all 13 citizen sponsored bills regulating wind power. These bills led to what was called the Fitts Ammendment named after EUT committee co-chair Stacey Fitts whose company's website had BOASTED  “we have been very active in the development of state regulations in Maine where one of Kleinschmidt’s engineers is a member of the Governor’s Ocean Energy Task Force". You can read about that here.

 

- The stated need for the CMP upgrade was reliability. It's the Maine Power Reliability Project. But what is done with a wink is that everyone at the MPUC and CMP knows that the reason the grid "needs" to be made more reliable is that the grid as it previously existed was not equipped to handle the thermal overload caused by sputtering wind and only sputtering wind. Wind is unpredictable and if it suddenly surges, the grid can be overloaded. Like you plug in too many appliances and you trip a circuit breaker or blow a fuse. Except what can happen on the grid is the grid goes down and we have a widespread blackout. All because it cannot handle wind. Do not confuse this with wind's efficacy. In fact, it is a very diluted highly inefficient energy source and Maine's onshore wind resource is actually 89% below the national average. (Click here). despite the fact that hucksters like Angus King told us we were "Saudi Arabia of Wind" in good old confidence game speak. But it can once in a while surge and destabilize the grid. One way to look at this is widening Interstate 95 to 20 lanes for the one or two times a year a truck with an extremely wide load has to come through.

 

- The stated reason for the need for reliability was primarily population growth and the fact there had not been an upgrade in 40 years. However, it can be shown that population projections for the entire northeast (New England and NY, NJ and PA) over the next 20 years are for only 3.4% growth. TOTAL over the 20 years. You can see the data on that here. Also, anyone who pays CMP bills can read the back of the bill and know that they are paying a charge to keep the lines maintained. Every month.Hundreds of thousands of ratepayers funding maintenance every month. Every year.

 

- The truth finally came out on wind being the real reason for the CMP upgrade: From a news report in the Portland Press-Herald: "Galan’s statements agitated Maine’s wind power opponents, who said they suspected all along that the transmission line upgrade was motivated more by Iberdrola’s desire to develop wind power than any concerns about reliability. “This makes it clear that the (transmission line project) wasn’t about replacing lines, it was about making Maine an industrial wind site,” said Steve Thurston, co-chair of the Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power". The article can be read here.

- Another personnel situation at the MPUC that is a conflict in the eyes of many Maine citizens who have been paying attention to this, is David Littell. The alleged conflict is that as MPUC commissioner Littell must ensure that rates are "just and reasonable for both consumers and utilities". http://www.maine.gov/mpuc/about/index.shtml But at his other job, that of Chairperson for the northeast's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), Littell is basically required to shove grossly expensive wind power and thus transmission down ratepayers' throats. http://www.rggi.org/rggi/board/David_Littell
 
 
- The wind industry likes to scream JOBS, JOBS, JOBS, despite the fact that most are temporary and often filled by specialized out of state wind crews. The reality is these jobs pale by comparison to the jobs that are at risk by Maine's electricity rates going yet higher, something they will certainly do if we do not stop this madness.  (To say nothing about wind factory/transmission blight's effect on tourism and property values).
 
- Governor Baldacci went out of his way to not associate the CMP Upgrade with his wind power cheerleading and in doing so protected the wind industry from the wrath of the ratepayer. The fact is that transmission expenses are a huge cost associated with wind, wherever we see wind projects go up in the world. And this is on top of the long list of government subsidies and other preferential treatment that the wind industry enjoys at the expense of taxpayers. Governor Baldacci's administration  was complicit in hiding the transmission cost by popularizing false reasons for the transmission buildout. Our old lines had received extraordinary ratepayer-funded maintenance and were perfectly good. If building these infernal wind factories all over the hallowed Maine landscape is the crime, then the transmission is the getaway car. And YOU get to pay for it.
 
- The powers that be like to point out that because Maine is but 8% of the ISO-NE grid, we pay only 8% of the $1.5 billion MPRP cost, with the other states picking up the other 92%. But what they NEVER say is that estimates are for perhaps $30 billion in similar wind-caused upgrades for other parts of the New England grid and that we will pay 8% of those as well. So multiply 8% by $30 billion and divide by Maine's ratepayers and we are talking thousands of dollars per ratepayer. You are now going to start seeing this in your CMP bill. So if you look up and don't see a turbine towering over your hard won little green acre, look down and you'll see one in your electric bill and we've only just begun.
 
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MPUC Announces Electricity Rate Changes for CMP and BHE Customers

June 28, 2012

MPUC Announces Electricity Rate Changes for CMP and BHE Customers

Augusta, Maine—New electricity delivery rates for customers of Central Maine Power (CMP) and Bangor Hydro Electric (BHE) have been approved by the Maine Public Utilities Commission. The new delivery rates –which include distribution and transmission costs in all CMP and BHE customer classes—are effective as of July 1, 2012. These changes do not affect electricity supply prices, such as for standard offer service.

For CMP customers, the new rates reflect an overall increase of 7.1% for the delivery portion of the bill. The rate change for BHE customers is an overall increase of approximately 4.5%. Customers may see rate changes that differ from the overall levels, depending on their class of service. “The major driver for these increases is the change in federally regulated transmission rates, which for CMP will increase by 19.6% and for BHE will increase by 12%,” said Commission Chairman Thomas Welch. “CMP and BHE transmission rates cover the costs of transmission systems in Maine, as well as a portion of the costs of inter-state systems throughout the New England region. The July 1 rate increases reflect the costs of recent and ongoing transmission reliability upgrades.

Background: Electricity in Maine is comprised of power delivery (transmission, distribution, metering and billing) which is fully regulated, and power supply (production and provision of electric energy and capacity) which is controlled by market competition. Maine electricity consumers receive delivery service from a transmission and distribution utility (like CMP or BHE), and supply service from a Maine-licensed competitive electricity provider. The Commission fully regulates the operations and rates of the transmission and delivery utilities, except for transmission rates which are regulated by the FERC. CMP and BHE are two of Maine’s three investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities. For more information, go to www.maine.gov/mpuc.

 

 http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=puc-pressreleas...

 

http://www.cmpco.com

Citizen ratepayer group and petition anyone?

 

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Tags: What Every Maine Ratepayer Needs to Know, angus, baldacci, electricity, john, king, maine, scam, wind

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Comment by Long Islander on September 18, 2012 at 10:15am

Meanwhile in Texas:

This in spite of the $7 billion state electric ratepayers contributed to build power lines from West Texas wind farms to cities where the power could actually be used. And that all of the taxpayer and ratepayer support produces a very small number of jobs at a cost of $1.6 million each.

 

http://www.texaswatchdog.org/2012/09/public-costs-of-wind-power-pil...

Comment by Jim Lutz on August 26, 2012 at 4:21pm

Since 2006 we have been scammed, lied to, cheated and watched Maine's politicians pocket huge amounts of state and federal cash.  And who is paying for it?  You and me and all the ratepayers in the State of Maine.  More than 50% of our energy in Maine is already clean and renewable and we are being singled out to do all the dirty work, spoiling our mountaintops, degrading our lakes and ponds with herbicides and silt, doubling up the transmission lines and their cuts through our wilderness, and cutting down immense numbers of CO2 sequestering trees.  They lied when they told Baldacci we were the Saudi Arabia of wind, when we are in the lowest 89 percentile.  PUC commissioners were taking cash from the Wind Industry, and many of them left government after feathering their beds to join the industry.  We have one of those devious politicians currently running for Senator and it is imperative that we defeat him in November, or we will have more of these lies pushed down our throat while they continue to pocket ill gotten cash, and we continue to pay more and more.  It is a scam, we know it and we have to make everyone else know it.

Comment by Dan McKay on July 29, 2012 at 6:39pm

It would be cheaper for the electric customers to pay the landowners to not allow wind turbines to be built on their land!

— Glenn Schleede, Va.

Comment by Long Islander on July 29, 2012 at 6:33pm

Ignacio Galan, Chairman of Iberdrola and master of sock puppet John Elias Baldacci

"If Maine signals that it’s no longer friendly to wind power, he said, the global energy company will expand elsewhere.“We will be involved in this state once the transmission line is completed,” Galan said, “if the framework is here.”Galan made his comments to The Portland Press Herald before a news conference and celebration to kick off CMP’s Maine Power Reliability Project".

http://www.pressherald.com/news/CMPs-parent-Wind-power-development-...

Comment by Barbara Durkin on July 7, 2012 at 1:21pm

New England ratepayers are funding a $1.4 Billion dollar transmission upgrade that Maine Today 'Alternative Energy Projects at Risk' [5/13] states: 

The [transmission upgrade]: "...isn't designed to handle the power that can be made available at times from new and existing alternative energy plants in northern and eastern Maine, federal utility regulators and the region's grid operator have determined."

Central Maine Power, subsidiary of Spanish wind energy company Iberdrola, (that received $867 million in US stimulus), represented to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), in 2008, that this transmission project would increase opportunities for wind energy in particular.

FERC states in Docket No. EL08-74-000:

"Central Maine asserts that the Project will reduce line losses, assure a safe and secure supply of power in Maine, improve power quality and operating efficiency, increase opportunities for new renewable generation (particularly wind generation), and reduce congestion.20 Central Maine also claims that the Project will enhance reliability, decrease the risk of cascading outages, voltage collapse, and widespread blackouts, eliminate the potential for future NERC violations, and improve system performance for scheduling, outage coordination, and maintenance." [cut-follow link]

New England ratepayers' are funding $1.4 Billion for a project that does not function as Central Maine Power has on record represented it would. In fact, if we utilize this transmission upgrade for its intended purpose, we would court, "cascading outages", and, "widepread blackouts".

Maine Today Tux Turkel's article'Alternative Energy Projects at Risk': http://www.kjonline.com/news/cmp-upgradenewenergyprojectsat-risk_20...

Supporting evidence: 

http://www.ferc.gov/whats-new/comm-meet/2008/101608/E-26.pdf

FERC filing Docket No. EL08-74-000

125 FERC ¶ 61,079

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION

Before Commissioners: Joseph T. Kelliher, Chairman;

Suedeen G. Kelly, Marc Spitzer,

Philip D. Moeller, and   Jon Wellinghoff. Central Maine Power Company

Docket No.

EL08-74-000

The planned Project consists of approximately 245 miles of new 345 kV transmission line, 74 miles of new 115 kV transmission line, 10 miles of rebuilt 345 kV transmission line, 155 miles of rebuilt 115 kV transmission line, and upgrades to Central Maine’s existing substations. The proposed transmission corridor is an approximately 370 mile right-of-way with a width of 170 to 500 feet.4 The Project’s currently estimated cost is $1.4 billion, with approximately $1.1 billion associated with transmission lines and $300 million associated with substations. Central Maine expects construction to begin in mid-2009, with a target in-service date of 2012 in order to meet its future reliability needs.

(page 8.)

b. Effects

  1. 1.       Central Maine asserts that the Project will reduce line losses, assure a safe and secure supply of power in Maine, improve power quality and operating efficiency, increase opportunities for new renewable generation (particularly wind generation), and reduce congestion.20 Central Maine also claims that the Project will enhance reliability, decrease the risk of cascading outages, voltage collapse, and widespread blackouts, eliminate the potential for future NERC violations, and improve system performance for scheduling, outage coordination, and maintenance.21

http://www.ferc.gov/whats-new/comm-meet/2008/101608/E-26.pdf

The First Rule of Iberdrola: 

 

Comment by Long Islander on July 7, 2012 at 8:22am

“The major driver for these increases is the change in federally regulated transmission rates, which for CMP will increase by 19.6% "

http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=puc-pressreleas...

Comment by alice mckay barnett on July 1, 2012 at 10:01am

With the announcement of about a 20% increase in CMP customer's delivery charge, I know citizens all over Maine are asking why?  They say the Reliability Project is under way, building new transmission lines for you. But, where are the new lines?  Roxbury, Rollins Ridge, Kibby Mtn, Stetson soon to roll through Carthage and Dixfield.  You guessed it.  Wind requires massive destruction before hitting the GRID.  WIND requires 30% stimulis grant plus $22.00 MW Production Tax Credit and $30.000 Renewable Energy Credit.

Figure it out. Natural gas costs $32.00 MW and lines are in place. Maine does not need renewables (we are 50%). Massachusetts is mandated to buy it.   They pay $99.00 MW for WIND.  We are a New England Grid so we pay as well.

A moratorium slows this craziness down, slow down take a look.  Is your property in Maine at stake? Did you invest because it is Maine? A quality of place?

 

Comment by alice mckay barnett on June 29, 2012 at 9:41pm

$32.00 MW natural gas

$22.00 MW PTC

$30.00 MW REC

$ 4.00 MW Efficiancy Maine

$ 4.00 MW kill Maine Yankee, bio mass ect.

 

get off the grid

Comment by Dan McKay on June 29, 2012 at 8:19am

Thank You, PUC. With power generation in Maine more than needed to satisfy demand in Maine, you bought Iberdrola's plan to move wind energy out of state, which has successfully increased our electric bills. I would also thank you for forcing Maine utilities into buying Rollins Wind at $55 to $110 per megawatt at a time when natural gas has dropped in price by 41%. I don't know much much longer my pocketbook can stand your inspired visions.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010  http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?"  http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

 -- Mahatma Gandhi

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