Maine Center for Public Interest: Wind and transmission line proposals for Northern Maine

November 6, 2022

What you need to know about new wind and transmission line proposals for Northern Maine

by Annie Ropeik

Editor’s Note: The following story first appeared in The Maine Monitor’s free environmental newsletter, Climate Monitor, that is delivered to inboxes for every Friday morning. Sign up for the free newsletter to get important environmental news by registering at this link.

By many measures, Aroostook County is rich in untapped renewable energy potential. The County and areas around it check all the boxes prized by developers — very good wind speeds, large areas of mostly undeveloped, flat-ish land for solar, plus a sparse population and a general openness on the part of local leaders to economic opportunities.

Tapping this potential, for many in Maine’s energy world, has become a holy grail that has remained out of reach for decades, and that the state Public Utilities Commission has now taken a big new step toward trying to seize.

The reason for the challenge is surprising: Northern Maine is not connected directly to the rest of the U.S. power grid. Instead, any generators with excess electrons to sell must take the long way around — routing power out through New Brunswick, Canada, and then back into New England and points south.

It’s an expensive detour, which is why the region hasn’t had more projects lining up to tap its purportedly rich renewable resources — and why some, like ReEnergy’s biomass plants, have closed for lack of affordable export options. The projects that have succeeded have generally either sold their power locally, through net metering or direct agreements with, say, a paper mill; paid to sell through Canada, as in the case of Mars Hill Wind; or built what are called “generator lead lines,” a lower-voltage transmission option to connect a single project directly to the New England grid.

A new state law, spearheaded by Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Allagash), required the Maine Public Utilities Commission to try and solve this problem once and for all with a procurement process, seeking cost-effective options for transmission, wind, solar and biomass energy in Northern Maine. The PUC announced the results last week, and a few days ago published scant details on the winning projects, which face a long and uncertain road to actually being financed and built in the way state officials are hoping.

It’s important to emphasize that no new wind or transmission projects have the green light for construction in Northern Maine just yet. The PUC has only made its picks for what officials would like to see built if — and it’s a big if — the projects’ financing can fulfill the legislature’s requirement of “minimizing the cost of energy available to the State’s consumers” (more on that in a moment).

If you’ve followed the CMP corridor’s saga, you know these permitting and financing processes can take years and are full of potential legal and political pitfalls. The PUC notes this in its order selecting these winning projects: “This Order does not address the myriad regulatory approvals and permits that a Project of this nature will require,” it says, listing several that bidders had to discuss in their still-confidential applications, including, notably, “approval by the Maine Legislature for a proposed Project that meets the definition of a ‘high impact transmission line’ … with respect to Question 1: Citizen’s Initiative.” That’s the successful 2021 referendum that has so far blocked the CMP corridor and is still being litigated in court.

With that major caveat aside, we now have our first look at the proposals the PUC thinks are Northern Maine’s best bet to solve its decades-long renewables export challenge. The transmission line, from New York-based LS Power, would be able to move 1,200 megawatts of power — the same as the CMP corridor. The wind project, which Boston-based developer Longroad Energy calls King Pine, could generate up to 1,000 MW.

For scale, that’s enough to power several hundred thousand homes — the actual range varies depending on lots of external factors. Northern New England’s last remaining nuclear plant, Seabrook in New Hampshire, generates 1,200 MW. The electricity demand across all of New England as I write this, on a mild weekday evening in fall, is about 13,500 MW.

Location-wise, the documents linked above show King Pine Wind would include 179 turbines northwest of Houlton. The LS power line would run for more than 100 miles, according to a press release. Its PUC filing says it would begin at an unspecified “northern terminus at a new substation in southern Aroostook County” — the PUC decided against an optional northward extension of 44 more miles — and end at a new substation in Pittsfield, theoretically cutting southwest toward Bangor along the I-95 corridor or thereabouts. It would then continue via existing corridors and substations to the coast in Wiscasset.

LS hopes to have its big state permit (a CPCN, or “certificate of public convenience and necessity”) by September 2023. They’d spend the next three years acquiring land rights and additional permits, then begin construction in fall 2026 with a goal of getting the power line up and running in early 2029. King Pine’s process would follow about a year and a half after the power line.

The price of these projects is perhaps the biggest single variable still ahead. The PUC says the power line will cost nearly $2.8 billion, but that the wind project knocks nearly $1.1 billion off the cost — giving the package a $1.7-billion pricetag over 30 years. Massachusetts has already signaled it wants “buy” at least some power from Northern Maine — I put “buy” in quotes because the projects’ electrons would be shared across the regional grid, as in the case of the CMP corridor, but Massachusetts would pay to claim some of the renewable energy benefits it needs to meet its climate goals.

Massachusetts also has until the end of this year to decide if LS and King Pine fit the bill for its plans. “This leaves the Commission in the challenging position,” the PUC order says, “of not knowing how much of the cost of these Projects Maine ratepayers are being asked to finance. Without this knowledge, it is not possible to make a determination as to whether the cost to Maine ratepayers is reasonable and in the public interest. Accordingly … the Commission reserves for later determination how much of the Projects Maine ratepayers should fund. This approach allows LS Power and Longroad to move forward and seek partners, which could include Massachusetts or other entities, while not committing Maine ratepayers to an unknown share of the total cost.”

This is the biggest if, as I mentioned earlier — whether Massachusetts will sign on, and what other partners might chip in to offset any or all cost-sharing for Mainers. Energy industry folks I spoke to about this procurement process in the summer, before LS and King Pine were selected, said it’s always been these high costs that sank past efforts to take hold of the Northern Maine energy holy grail.

And siting will be a huge if too, in a state where groups from across the political spectrum have relentlessly fought the CMP corridor, a project fully paid for by Massachusetts with its power generated out of state. The Natural Resources Council of Maine, one key CMP corridor opponent, lauded the PUC’s Northern Maine picks on the conditions that they’re “responsibly sited and built with community support” — metrics where NRCM says CMP falls short.

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Does Aroostook County really have VERY GOOD wind speeds as stated?

I clicked the above link and it looks as though the wind speeds in the parts of the county where development may be planned have average wind speed very below places like the Great Plains or, closer to home, coastal Massachusetts. This relative disparity between wind speeds across the U.S. becomes more readily apparent when looking at the following map, based on 80 meter height.

Perhaps this relatively poorer wind in Maine explains why very, very often, one drives by wind turbines in Maine and notices that they are not turning. Ask yourself, how often do you find yourself saying, "wow, it's really windy today"? RARELY. In our modern society where people expect the lights to come on at the flick of a switch, wind power is obviously a wholly unreliable source due to its intermittent nature. Such an electricity source can only be depended on if its electricity production can be stored. Well, that doesn't happen because GRID-SCALE electricity storage does not exist and will not exist for a very, very long time if at all. This feckless feel good power source is frankly a confidence game which preys on people's ignorance, carefully cultivated by our propagandist media, "environmental" groups, universities, international organizations such as the U.N. and a number of others. The taxpayer and ratepayer get the bill (which is sky high) and Wall Street and other insider grow absurdly rich. Communities are torn apart, the natural environment disgracefully scarred, birds and bats slaughtered and dependable power sources run out of business. The energy disaster we are seeing in Europe is but a coming attraction for our future if the citizenry does not wake up and call BULLSHIT on wind and all its boosters. Now THAT, would be in the public interest.

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Comment by Art Brigades on November 11, 2022 at 2:42pm

For the 3-year period 2018 2019 2020, Mars Hill, with its older turbines, had the 3rd highest capacity factor (37.37%) among the 16 wind projects in Maine.  

Pisgah (38.83%) and Passadumkeag (38.59%) were the only two that had higher CF than Mars Hill.  The average for all projects statewide was 29.31%. 

Comment by Willem Post on November 10, 2022 at 10:07am

Grid-scale, li-ion battery systems, ALL-IN turnkey costs of 2022 are about 30% higher than in 2020, based on the history of quotes of large-scale, modular Tesla systems.

The 2022 pricing likely will greatly increase in future years

Comment by Willem Post on November 10, 2022 at 10:02am

Bloomberg has a huge conflict of interest, selling financial services and touting wind, solar and batteries

Bloomberg’s levelized costs are totally bogus

Wind and solar are cripples, because they could not even exist on the grid without the other generators counteracting their ups and downs of output and their intermittency when too little wind and too little or no solar.


Comment by Willem Post on November 10, 2022 at 10:00am

COLD WEATHER IN TEXAS: During the cold period of Feb 7 to Feb 17, 2021, electricity from wind, natural gas and nuclear were impacted by the cold weather.


Forecasted demand was 75,000 MW, but generation fed to grid was 48,000 MW, for a shortfall of 27,000 MW, at 10 am on Feb 16, which required rolling blackouts, during freezing conditions. See image in eia URL


Texas had about 34,000 MW of installed wind turbines

Texas had about 8,200 MW of installed solar systems


Wind and Solar Were Unavailable When Needed: Wind decreased from 22,500 MW at 11 pm on Feb 7, to near-zero at 11 am on Feb 9; the wind decrease was counteracted by increased electricity from natural gas plants. See image in eia URL

Wind decreased from 9,500 MW at 6 pm on Feb 14, to near-zero at 9 pm on Feb 15, when electricity demand was high.

Solar never exceeded 5000 MW at midday (not of much use at other times); it was 500 MW at 1 pm on Feb 14, when electricity demand was high.


These articles and image are provided for reference.







Life without oil means many products that are made with oil, such as the hundreds listed below, would need to be provided by wind and solar and hydro.

Folks, including Biden's attendants, wanting to get rid of fossil fuels, such as crude oil, better start doing some rethinking.

The above also applies to natural gas, which is much preferred by many industries

If you do not have abundant low-cost energy, you cannot have modern industrial economies.



These articles contain significant information regarding wind, solar and grid-scale battery systems










These articles explain a lot about the world-wide “Climate Crisis” scam, based on highly compromised surface station measurements, which typically read HIGH.


Climate scientists SUBJECTIVELY adjust the readings for use in their SUBJECTIVE computerized-temperature-calculation programs, which are used in the reports of IPCC, etc., for scare-mongering purposes.


New Surface Stations Report Released – It’s ‘worse than we thought’


Weather- Just how does it happen?


A summary of the results of three “Physics of the Earth’s Atmosphere” papers, which were submitted for peer review at the Open Peer Review Journal.




Satellites and balloons measure temperatures of the Troposphere, which starts at ground level, and has an average height of 59,000 ft at the tropics, 56,000 ft at the middle latitudes, and 20,000 ft at the poles. Above those levels starts the Stratosphere.


Balloons directly measure temperatures. Satellites measure radiation, from which temperatures are calculated. 

Both consistently measure much lower temperatures than the average of 102 computer-generated graphs.

See Appendix 2 and 3


The data in the below images is for a 43-y period.

There is global warming, but it is not anywhere near as much as scare-mongers are claiming.


1) Objective satellite and balloon temperatures increased from 0.00 to 0.5 C, or, or 0.116 C/decade 

2) Subjective computer-generated temperatures increased from 0.00 to 1.20 C; or 0.28 C/decade, about 2.7 TIMES AS FAST


The temperature data by satellites and balloons are more accurate than land-based measurements.

See Appendix 2 and URL

Satellite measurements are made many times during every day and systematically cover almost the entire world; +/- 85-degree latitude.

The satellite data is vastly more complete, and accurate than would be gathered by ground stations. (See Appendix 2) 


Balloon measurements, made on a sampling basis, are vastly less complete than satellite measurements, but they serve as a useful crosscheck on the satellite measurements. 


NOTE: Behind the 102 computer graphs are hundreds of organizations that likely receive a significant part of their revenues from governments and subsidy-receiving wind, solar, battery, etc., businesses.

The livelihood and career prospects of the people creating these graphs is more secure, if they aim high, rather than low.


A more detailed view of satellite temperatures.


Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) and also a member of the CO2 Coalition. Sheahen and the Coalition are collaborating on a brief.

SEPP’s October 8 newsletter contains a summary of a major 2021 paper by Happer and co-author William van Wijngaarden that completely undermines the fake “science” the IPCC and EPA used to support the case of climate alarm. See URL

Sheahen specifically discusses the efforts of Professors William van Wijngaarden and William Happer in their pioneering work in calculating the real-world Global Warming Potentials (GWPs) of the five most common Green-House Gases (GHGs).

Sheahan explains why the approach used by IPCC is faulty, but nonetheless used by its followers, such as the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the EPA.

These faulty methods lead to great exaggeration of the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide, methane, and other minor greenhouse gases.

Sheahan shows the stunning agreement between the calculations of van Wijngaarden and Happer (W & H) with satellite measurements (and balloon measurements) of outgoing infrared radiation emitted by the earth to space . . .

Sheahan claims, because of the exceptionally good agreement between observational data and the calculations of W & H, we can conclude the W&H model has been validated.

The W&H model embodies the scientific method, i.e., it is reasonable to use it to study other hypothetical cases.

It is not possible to do so with IPCC models, which have never achieved agreement with observations. 

See Appendix 3

The gist of the H&W work is the greenhouse effect of CO2 in the atmosphere is almost entirely saturated, such that any additional CO2 can have almost no additional warming effect.

Here is a chart prepared by Sheahan to illustrate the H&W results.

As atmospheric CO2 increases, say from 380 to 420 ppm; the-40 ppm increase has about 0.05C warming effect.

As atmospheric CO2 increases, say from 20 to 60 ppm; the 40-ppm increase has about a 0.5C warming effect.

Comment by Willem Post on November 7, 2022 at 6:35am

Annie, Great write up! The final paragraph is the cherry on top

A 1000 MW wind turbine system would cost at least $2.3 billion in Northern Maine, per NREL

The 1200 MW transmission line to connect it to southern New England grids costs at least $2.3 billion

Those prices likely are 2021 or 2022 prices

Please explain how the wind system “knocks $1.1 of the total cost”

Remember, this money has to be borrowed at much higher interest rates, which are still increasing.

Any wind and solar systems cost more per MW in New England than elsewhere in the U.S., which increases cost per kWh, per NREL annual wind reports

Because of poor wind and solar conditions in Northern Maine (per US Wind Map), the capacity factor for wind would be less than 0.30 and for solar less than 0.14, which also increases cost per kWh

Add on top of that, the huge cost of transmission to get the electricity to users.

You mentioned 30 years. That is total horse manure

Wind systems usually are worn out after 20 years; offshore even less, based on 35 years of European experience They produce less and less each year

Solar systems usually are worn out after 25 years. They produce less and less each year

Make sure there is a growing fund to pay for the complete dismantling and hazardous-waste landfilling of the entire systems

This entire project would be a money looser, unless: 1) subsidies would be greatly increased, and 2) the electricity were sold at high prices, all of which would make New England less competitive on world markets, much to the delight of deep-in-do-do Europe, which lacks oil, coal and gas, etc., and other competitors, who pay lip service to global warming mitigation efforts, unless the U.S. and other advanced nation pay them hundreds of $BILLIONS EACH YEAR.

Those prices will be much higher when all of it would go on line about 5 to 7 years from now, because of inflation 

Comment by Dan McKay on November 7, 2022 at 4:40am

Are there any journalists out there who would interview the PUC Commissioners or the legislators who voted for this monstrosity?

No more secrets from the public, they are paying for this energy. 


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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