Richard Silkman: A New Energy Policy Direction for Maine

An energy economist, Richard Silkman, has been recently distilling a 98-page plan to make Maine a zero-carbon state by 2050.

It relies on a large-scale shift from fossil fuels to an expanded electricity grid powered mainly by new renewables. His main selling point? While the grid upgrades and investments in new generation and storage would cost nearly $60 billion over that period, the entire project should not cost more over time than what Mainers already regularly pay for energy.

Silkman and his research are at the confluence of issues gaining traction in Augusta. Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, has convened the Maine Climate Council to work toward meeting a goal to decrease emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Meanwhile, a leading Democratic lawmaker is proposing to buy out the state’s biggest utilities in favor of a consumer-owned utility.

Thorny questions underlie those proposals around spending, lifestyle changes and palatability. Silkman also faces them. But his first-of-its-kind analysis — somewhere between a thought experiment and a policy proposal — is being watched by Mills, lawmakers and environmentalists. He has presented it twice in the State House since last week.

“He has it down, and I think it will definitely be one of the discussion points of any academic segue to practical work,” said Barry Hobbins, Maine’s public advocate.

Silkman’s plan requires massive grid upgrades and a shift to electricity from fossil fuels, relying on a market phase-out of heating oil and gas-powered vehicles.

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Excerpts from:

Richard Silkman: A New Energy Policy Direction for Maine

Since a primary objective of beneficial electrification is to enable deep decarbonization thereby virtually eliminating CO2 emissions across all sectors of society, I consider only those generation technologies suitable for Maine that are capable of producing electricity at the scale required. These are solar PV systems, on-shore wind and off-shore wind . In addition. I have assumed that Maine's existing hydroelectric generating plants continue to operate, and that their collective energy is delivered to meet Maine's electricity requirements. I do not consider tidal, ocean wave or ocean current technologies, biomass, nuclear or geothermal , as I believe these will remain either politically unacceptable, technologically infeasible or economically unviable through 2050 compared to the other alternatives.......................During the summer, when wind generation diminishes, solar fills in the gap. Hydro is less well-aligned with load. While it does produce higher energy outputs during the winter , its time of maximum production coincides with the spring snowmelt when electric loads are relatively low..........................I allow for overbuilding of wind and solar generation. This introduces another

tool to balance the grid in addition to battery storage. This provides the ability to throttle back generation from these wind and solar gene rating plants, i.e .. dispatching generation off when it exceeds loads, in addition to using battery storage to balance the grid.................................I set the capacity of the on-shore wind at 3,500 MW..................................................This means that any technological progress with respect to this technology is given up to cost increases in excess of the rate of inflation for such considerations as environmental siting issues, and because the best wind locations are likely to be developed first.................................To achieve Maine's target level of generation for on-shore wind under the pathway of 2,500 GW by 2050 will require the installation of more than 80 MW of new turbines each year..................................

CMP corridor foes tease having enough signatures to put referendum on Maine’s 2020 ballot

AUGUSTA, Maine — Opponents of Central Maine Power’s proposed hydropower corridor signaled Thursday that they had enough signatures to get a question that would kill the project on the statewide ballot in November, slating a news conference for next week.

Say No to NECEC, a nonprofit that has been coordinating the referendum drive that kicked off in August, thanked supporters in a Facebook post and urged them to come to a Monday news conference at the State House where the group will make an announcement on signatures.

The group will need more than 63,000 signatures from Maine voters to make the ballot. Tom Saviello, a Wilton selectman and former state senator who is coordinating the drive, said Thursday that he wouldn not disclose the number of signatures the group has, but he teased that it had enough. Signatures must be verified by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s office.


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Comment by Willem Post on January 31, 2020 at 4:05pm

They should be required to list educational background and energy systems experience in the private sector.

Experience in the government sector does not count.

Members of pro this or that do not qualified, on account of being biased.

Comment by Long Islander on January 31, 2020 at 2:10pm

Do you think this coterie of insiders has geared up to fill your pockets or their pockets?

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Comment by John F. Hussey on January 31, 2020 at 12:26pm  All Civil Penalty Actions – 2020  "...the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit; $7,500,000 against Competitive Energy Services, LLC; and $1,250,000 against Richard Silkman assessed in the matter of CES and Richard Silkman;..." 

Comment by John F. Hussey on January 31, 2020 at 12:09pm


Comment by Willem Post on January 31, 2020 at 10:41am

Silkman appears to be a huckster who got caught manipulation markets and was convicted and was fined.



Comment by Penny Gray on January 31, 2020 at 7:25am

Wow, Nancy.  That's powerful stuff! How much, I wonder, did Silkman pocket from that fraudulent scheme if he was fined $1,250.000.?  And the Bangor Daily News is plugging his energy economics?  Interesting.

Comment by Nancy Sosman on January 31, 2020 at 2:34am
Comment by Willem Post on January 30, 2020 at 11:25pm

Every Tom, Dick and Harry throws in his two cents worth to save the world.

If Silkman had been an experienced energy systems analyst, it might be worthwhile to listen to him.

But, he is an economist playing at being an energy systems analyst.

He would need an advanced degree in engineering from a good college and about 20 to 30 years as an energy systems analyst to tackle the problem he purports to tackle.

Silkman’s plan would cost at least $2 billion per year for each of about 35 years.

He should define how much storage capacity is needed, I.e., MWh delivered as AC to the high voltage grid.

BTW, Round trip in and out of a battery, high voltage AC to high voltage AC, has a loss of about 20%.

Make sure to have enough solar panels and wind turbines to cover that loss, and have enough electricity storage to cover 5 to 7 day wind/solar lulls that happen at random throughout the year.

Just check the ISO-NE website for minute by minute generation of each source, such as gas, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, etc., to see how little wind/solar total is generated for many hours of the year.

Comment by Bob Stone on January 30, 2020 at 6:53pm

I get a kick out of how Silkman just blows off Generation IV nuclear.  He's missing the boat.

Comment by Penny Gray on January 30, 2020 at 5:32pm

Well, it's very simple really.  Wind and solar can wean us off of fossil fuels. Simply build a battery the size of Rhode Island and Maine'll be all set.  Simply put, it's simple.  Trust the academics. They have it down.


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

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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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"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."

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