Mass. utilities file major contracts to buy Canadian hydro carried over Maine power line

Massachusetts utilities have wrapped up contract negotiations to buy large amounts of Canadian hydropower, which would be carried over a yet-to-be-built Maine transmission line.

Electric companies affiliated with Eversource, Unitil and National Grid last week agreed on terms to buy 9,450,000 megawatt-hours annually from Hydro-Quebec using Central Maine Power's New England Clean Energy Connect power line.

The wholesale power would be procured at a levelized price of 5.9 cents per kilowatt hour, touted as a "highly cost-effective source of clean energy generation for Massachusetts customers" that could cut retail bills by 2 to 4 percent and reduce the region's reliance on natural gas to produce electricity.

The power purchase agreements were submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, which in turn recommended approval to state utility regulators.

It's a final step in a process initiated in 2016 when Gov. Charlie Baker signed legislation requiring utilities to buy clean power from new sources to fight climate change and diversify the state's energy portfolio.

The law launched two competitions -- one for offshore wind, and another for a potential mix of solar, wind, hydro, and storage. Hydro-Quebec ended up in the catbird seat, winning approval to provide all the energy in the latter procurement.

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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  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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