NRCM, a major NECEC opponent, is on board with this transmission project. Why do you suppose that is?


PUC to give a boost to renewable projects in northern Maine

Updated 12/7/21

State regulators have begun the process of collecting proposals for a high-voltage transmission line to serve as a conduit for renewable energy projects in Aroostook and Washington counties.

HALLOWELL — Despite criticism of the New England Clean Energy Connect project, state regulators have begun the process of collecting proposals for a high-voltage transmission line to serve as a conduit for renewable energy projects in northern Maine.

A state law required the Maine Public Utilities Commission to begin planning for a transmission capacity of at least 345 kilovolts to connect northern Maine renewable energy projects to the New England power grid.

The project aims to address one of the obstacles to renewable projects in rural Maine – access to the power grid.

It’s a similar to the proposed 145-mile transmission line that would be a conduit for Canadian hydropower to the New England power grid. But it would serve a different purpose as a conduit for Maine-based renewable energy projects.

State voters rebuked the New England Clean Energy Connect in November, and the permit was suspended by the Department of Environmental Protection. Work has halted for the time being.

But supporters are hopeful for a different outcome in northern Maine. Aroostook and parts of Washington County are currently disconnected from the New England grid, requiring electricity to be routed through Canada, said Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, of Allagash.

That has stymied development of wind and biomass projects that could produce lots of electricity.

“This has been the holy grail of clean-energy development in Maine for well over a decade, and this has been the first opportunity to really try and make that a reality,” said Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association.

Continue reading at:

PPH: Maine won’t wait long for answers on clean energy, transmission lines


By The Editorial Board


The resounding victory last month for Question 1 raised questions about just how hard it would be to build the electricity transmission lines necessary to build a clean-energy future.

Maine won’t have to wait long to find out.

State regulators this week put out a call for bids to construct a major transmission line connecting far northern Maine to the New England grid, as mandated by a law passed by the Legislature last year.

The request from the Public Utilities Commission asks for proposals for large-scale wind and solar power projects and the development of a biomass power plant in addition to the construction of the new line.

The electricity from the power-generation part of the project would be enough for hundreds of thousands of homes, and open the way for more. The transmission line would send that power to the grid – where it could be used wherever the grid reaches.

Finally, northern Maine’s potential for producing clean energy could be realized, and an industry could be built around it. Construction of the new power generators would bring jobs, while a biomass plant would stabilize an important aspect of the forest products industry. Maintenance of the plants, and perhaps even manufacturing of items such as wind turbines, would keep the jobs there.

“This has been the holy grail of clean-energy development in Maine for well over a decade, and this has been the first opportunity to really try and make that a reality,” Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association, told MainePublic.

It is an exciting opportunity to bring more renewable energy to the New England grid while creating jobs in an area of the state that needs them.

That’s also close to the same argument made by proponents of New England Clean Energy Connect – and we saw how that went Nov. 2, when a referendum stopping NECEC won with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

There are reasons to believe this transmission line will be seen differently, however. While no specific route has been chosen yet, the geography of northeastern Maine, and the infrastructure already in place, mean that the line is less likely than NECEC to go through sensitive areas.

The Natural Resources Council of Maine, a major NECEC opponent, is on board with this project. And while the communities along the CMP corridor soured on NECEC, the northern Maine line has been under consideration for years and is widely seen as beneficial.

In testimony to the Legislature earlier this year, one Aroostook County commissioner called it an “unparalleled opportunity,” while the president and CEO of Aroostook Partnership, a business and higher education nonprofit, said, “People and businesses in Aroostook County have been hoping for exactly this kind of investment for decades.”....................


Through projects like a transmission line through northern Maine, our state can contribute more to the effort to reduce emissions by helping other states in New England reach their goals, all while creating jobs and tax revenue for our communities.

Who’s going to say no to that?



As one big energy corridor stalls, another moves forward in northern Maine

Maine Public | By Fred Bever
Published December 1, 2021 at 5:03 PM EST

As Central Maine Power's energy corridor continues to confront numerous legal and political challenges, there is movement on another major transmission line proposal.

This week, state regulators called for bids to construct a transmission line that would connect northern Maine to the New England electricity grid and encourage the development of renewable energy sources. Supporters say CMP's recent experience should not be seen as a death knell for other projects that will be needed to meet regional and national green energy goals.

The new northern Maine power line effort was mandated by the Legislature this year, and broadly speaking it's not that different from CMP's New England Clean Energy Connect, which grew out of its bid for an energy contract mandated by Massachusetts lawmakers.

Beset by controversy from the start, the CMP project was hammered at the polls a month ago by voters who approved a referendum that aims to kill it. Then last week the state also suspended its environmental permit.

"But now that that has happened, we need a way to get to our renewable energy goals," says Aroostook County Democrat Troy Jackson, who is president of the Maine Senate, and a chief sponsor of the law that could bring the new project to life.

He says Aroostook and parts of Washington county are disconnected from the New England grid, and electricity to or from the area must be routed through Canada.

That's inhibited the success of local biomass energy plants, he says, and the development of wind energy projects that potentially could produce massive amounts of non-polluting electricity — a product that's in high demand as the region and nation move to "decarbonize" the economy.

"And here is Aroostook County that's dying for economic development and has some of the greatest wind in the entire world, biomass and things like that we can't get the power out of Aroostook County viably, and here's an opportunity to get a line built and get some progress going in northern Maine," Jackson says.

The RFP issued by the Maine Public Utilities Commission on Monday is split into two parts: one calling for proposals for the transmission line itself, and one to procure large slugs of renewable energy from wind or solar projects, and from the development of a biomass generation plant.

The legislation calls for procuring at minimum a percentage of the state's overall electricity load that would amount to somewhere between 700 and 1100 megawatts, observers say — enough to provide electricity for hundreds of thousands of homes (or electric vehicles, for that matter) — with the potential of unlocking even larger amounts of the area's wind energy potential.

"This has been the holy grail of clean-energy development in Maine for well over a decade, and this has been the first opportunity to really try and make that a reality," says Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association.

Payne says the energy producers in his sector have been anxious to get a foothold in northern Maine, and the proposed project could even lead some big wind turbine manufacturers to locate in the County too.

But, he says, bidders would do well to learn from CMP's experience, that it's important to develop close connections early on with individuals and businesses in potential host communities, to gauge their needs, and court — and maintain — their support.

"And that seems to be sort of the rub that occurred with the CMP line, was once they encountered resistance they said 'we're coming anyway, we've got this letter of support from 14 months ago from your town council.' And then individuals in the town said 'we don't care, we're going to flip that vote, we're going to have them undo that letter,  and then we're not just not going to support your project, we're going to actively oppose it,'" Payne says.

Although there is no specific route chosen for an Aroostook transmission line yet, Jackson and other backers say its footprint would be less intrusive than the CMP project in western Maine, requiring less cutting through woodlands and avoiding high-profile recreation areas like the Kennebec River basin and the Appalachian Trail.

Pete Didisheim, the advocacy director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine — a leading foe of the CMP corridor project — says a northern Maine line might be more like a big transmission upgrade, called the Maine Power Reliability Project, or MPRP, that was completed about 10 years ago by none other than CMP.

"The connection between Aroostook County and the grid we think can be done in a way that co-locates and doesn't cut across significant forestlands. And I think it's much more likely to be the sort of discussion that occurred around the MPRP. That was 300 miles of transmission line, was built in Maine, with some small issues here and there but it got resolved," he says.

Still, some observers say that losing bidders for generating the electricity that would flow across the northern Maine project might try to undermine it, just as competitors of CMP's partner, Hydro Quebec, did by spending big money to challenge the corridor project in the courts and at the ballot box.

And one new wrinkle that developers and regulators will need to consider: under the law voters passed last month, construction of all "high-impact" transmission lines longer than 50 miles will require approval by a majority of the Legislature. And if they cross public lands, the bar rises to a vote of two-thirds in each chamber.

CMP did not respond to requests for comment.



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Comment by Dan McKay on December 7, 2021 at 4:56pm

With natural gas supplies disrupted, citizens and businesses may be asked to reduce energy use this winter

The top official running New England's electricity grid says the region faces a "precarious" winter, in which consumers and businesses may be asked to limit their use of electricity and natural gas to help avert extended brownouts or worse.

Gordon Van Welie, CEO of the Independent System Operator of New England, or ISO-NE, also says that the region will need more hydro-electricity from Canada to help the transition to a greener grid, whether it gets here via Central Maine Power's contentious energy corridor, or by other routes.

With national and international supplies of the natural gas that fuels the majority of New England's power generation disrupted by the pandemic and other issues, Van Welie says requests for citizens and businesses to reduce energy usage, and even forced brownouts, are real possibilities this winter.

“I think we're feeling more vulnerable,” Van Welie says.

That despite predictions of a relatively mild winter. Extended cold snaps can happen any winter, Van Welie told reporters during a briefing Monday. He pointed to what happened in Texas during its extended outages early this year.

“What happened in Texas changed everything. We've not rested well since the February event… we know that we are operating close to the edge here in the wintertime, in particular here in New England, we've known that for a long time,” Van Welie says. “I think that what Texas drove home for me is that with almost 15 million people living in this region need to understand is that we are in a precarious position particularly when we get into cold weather."

New England's grid is more robust than in Texas, he adds. But the reliance on natural gas here can escalate quickly when supply chain issues coincide with a cold snap, because fuel dealers are required to deliver first to homes that heat with gas, and power generators are second in line.

This season, ISO-NE is planning to issue energy supply advisories along with 21-day weather predictions and may call on the public to curtail use of both electricity and gas before a cold snap arrives, in order to avert a crisis. ISO system administrator Peter Brandien says the agency may issue advisories similar to summer-time heat-wave messaging that come from utilities.

"Turn down your thermostat so that you're not using as much electricity or gas to heat your homes, don't do as much laundry, try to minimize the amount of cooking you're doing," Brandien says.

He adds that while business energy use declined some early in the COVID-19 pandemic, when workers were sent home en masse, that's no longer the case, with workers at home driving up daytime energy use, even while many offices are now open for business as well.

"[In a cold spell] I don't want to go to Hartford or Boston or something and see all the buildings all lit up, particularly at a time when we're asking for conservation,” Brandien says.

During the briefing, CEO Van Welie repeatedly referred to the role that electricity from Canadian hydro-dams can play as a kind of battery for the New England grid, as it becomes more reliant on other renewable energy, such as wind and solar, which, unlike hydroelectricity, are also intermittent depending in when the wind is blowing or sun is shining.

That's part of what Massachusetts was seeking, he says, when it contracted for a big slug of electricity from Hydro Quebec. He says he was disappointed that Maine residents voted to kill the CMP power corridor that would bring that electricity into the grid. But if it doesn't survive that and other legal challenges.

"I think we'll find other paths,” Van Welie says. “The one thing we're going to have to do is recognize is we're going to have to spend more in order to get these transmission line sited. Because the most part of the objection to the transmission is people don't want to see these lines.  And so if you bury them then you remove that objection but then of course you incur a much higher price tag on the line."

Van Wylie notes, though, that there were a number of objections that were very specific to the CMP line. And overall, he adds, Canadian hydro alone can't solve New England's problems, particularly with electricity use expected to grow radically because governments are moving the economy towards "decarbonization" and increased reliance on renewable electricity sources.

Comment by Donna Amrita Davidge on December 7, 2021 at 3:25pm
Disappointed. In any environmental organization that support industries that blatantly destroy nature
Comment by Robert Powers on December 7, 2021 at 12:56pm

There will be very massive solar & wind projects (taller turbines) in Northern Maine...PLUS follow he money given to the NRCM and others...many of these were "planned" in 2002-2006.

Wind won't interfere with potato production will take acreage but may put more money in some farmer's pockets....

Comment by Art Brigades on December 7, 2021 at 12:29pm

Speaking of dusting off, here are three archived documents that revive well-planned transmission corridors. The Dickey Lincoln reconnaissance document from the 1970s shows how they mapped several potential routes, including a western route that went between Seboomook and Moosehead, over to Jackman and down through Eustis toward a border crossing into the northern region of New Hampshire, then down where Northern Pass wanted to go. Hmmm, good luck with that one... 

The Bridle (Bridal) Path document shows how EDP has had all the land deals and utility deals in place since 2014. 

And the Industrial Energy Consumer Group/Competitive Energy Services memo explains the potential for the 189 mile Loring - Searsport pipeline corridor. 

Surely there are other contemplated routes out there, as indicated by this 2010 law

Comment by Art Brigades on December 7, 2021 at 11:23am

The "Bridle Path" is a decades-old corridor which is pretty much shovel-ready for a transmission line out of the County. There is also an old pipeline that used to pump jet fuel from Searsport to Loring Air Force Base in Limestone. It has been contemplated as ideal for a power line. From Searsport, an undersea cable could run to Southern New England or New York. There's also I-95, and lord knows what they could do running a line from the Allagash/St. John region west of Baxter Park along Telos Road toward the Hundred Mile Wilderness, Appalachian Trail, Debsconeag, Nahmakanta, etc.  (The planners for Dickey Lincoln had transmission plans. Those old blueprints and land deals could be dusted off.)  

No matter how you slice it, power lines are only power lines; their impact on the landscape is de minimis. It's the wind turbines, folks.

EDP, Number Nine, Horse Mountain, King Pine... these projects dwarf anything Maine has seen, and they have been planned for over ten years. The transmission plans are established too. The wind developers and their progeny (think First Wind and its subsequent iterations) are still lurking and salivating, land deals inked on paper, as Jerry Paine says, patiently pursuing their "holy grail."

Aroostook County - and by association all of Maine - is in the crosshairs of the biggest landscape wrecking ball since the King of England initiated the three centuries-long clearcut of our trees.

What's mind boggling is how Baxter, the Allagash and St. John Waterways, the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument... they all matter LESS to the Enviros than the "wilderness" of Jackman and The Forks???  

Head shaking. 

Comment by Kenneth Capron on December 3, 2021 at 9:10pm

So NCRM is up to the usual Prestidigitation. Of course they want northern Maine to suffer higher rates through the ISO-NE. Everything points to wind and solar sales. Force everyone to buy their power and replace all other forms of energy. Ya. Don't be fooled by card tricks. That's not Penn & Teller behind this scheme. Its someone(s) very rich with a penchant to show how smart he is. Its the f'n Grinch.

Comment by Art Brigades on December 3, 2021 at 6:18pm

There you have it in the editorial.  NRCM, which fought bitterly against NECEC, is already ok and on board with this more significant blight. 

Comment by Dan McKay on December 3, 2021 at 5:35am

Northern Maine, you DO NOT want to be connected to ISO-NE. They have been corrupted by dishonest legislators from every New England State.

All other Mainers, see the rates being paid by Northern Maine with connections to Canada and make a mad rush out of ISO-NE.

Comment by arthur qwenk on December 2, 2021 at 7:04pm

Dan, it's Biden and  Obama's GREEN DREAM   being paid for by Maine citizens who should know better by now!

Comment by Robert Powers on December 2, 2021 at 5:44pm

Then there will be an east west corridor (Rt 6 area)_and another along the general I-95 area...another corridor from Hancock county in the Southern Barrens and close to the I-395 extension,  Most people have not even heard of the undersea cable from Canada to the Maine on the drawing boards!

The number of projects planned in Maine is immense...just not for public the moment!


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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