Mass Gov Baker officials tout hydro contract benefits

BAKER ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS said a massive purchase of hydro-electricity from the Canadian province of Quebec will be priced at a levelized flat rate of 5.9 cents a kilowatt hour for 20 years, resulting in a 2 to 4 percent reduction in Massachusetts customer bills over that period and total direct and indirect savings of as much as $4 billion.

In a letter to the Department of Public Utilities accompanying separate contracts negotiated by the state’s three utilities, two officials in the Baker administration said the price breakdown was 4.8 cents per kilowatt hour for the energy and 1.1 cents per kilowatt hour for the transmission line needed to carry the power from the border of Quebec through Maine to the regional power grid. The prices were expressed in 2017 dollars.

The letter from Robert Hoaglund II and Ben Dobbs, legal counsels at the Department of Energy Resources, also disclosed some of the behind-the-scenes infighting behind the contract award. The letter said Massachusetts received 53 distinct proposals to provide clean energy to Massachusetts and two emerged as superior to the rest. Both of the preferred projects delivered hydro-electricity from Hydro-Quebec. One project, developed by Eversource Energy, brought the power into New England via a transmission line through New Hampshire. The other, developed by Central Maine Power, brought the power into the region through Maine.

“All other evaluated individual projects and portfolios of combined projects that met the legislative requirement of approximately 9,450,000 megawatt hours of clean energy generation were considerably more expensive and provided less benefit to Massachusetts customers,” the two officials said in the letter.

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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 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?" 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.”

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