Versant Power raps Aroostook wind transmission line it says adds costs, not benefits, for many customers

December 4, 2023

The proposed Aroostook Renewable Gateway would connect power from a wind farm to the New England grid, but the project has faced many obstacles as its seeks regulatory approval.



Versant Power customers in northern Maine will not benefit from a transmission line connecting wind power generated there to the New England grid, yet will still be required to pay for it, the utility told state regulators in the only public comments on the closed-door negotiations for the project.

In a filing Friday with the Maine Public Utilities Commission, Versant said it is not “fair or reasonable” to require the utility’s more than 35,000 Maine Public District customers in Aroostook County to pay the costs associated with the Aroostook Renewable Gateway project and Longroad wind farm northwest of Houlton. The 140- to 160-mile transmission line proposed by New York-based LS Power would not interconnect Versant’s Maine Public District with the New England grid, the utility said.

Pending final PUC approval, the project would be paid for in part by Maine ratepayers over many years. But Versant said its customers in the Maine Public District, more than 20% of the utility’s 165,000 customers, would not receive direct benefits, such as delivered power, reduced prices and renewable power from the two projects. Versant’s service area also includes the Bangor Hydro District in eastern Maine, which would benefit from the power line.

Central Maine Power, the state’s largest utility, also filed comments Friday, a spokesperson said. A PUC spokesperson said all filings that were due Friday have been received, but with the exception of the cover letter posted publicly at Versant’s request, comments are confidential. The PUC would not comment on a pending case, she said..................

...............Versant’s comments offer the only public view of the closed-door negotiations, but they still only allude to problems in negotiations without providing details.

For example, the utility said – without elaborating – that LS Power’s draft transmission agreement being considered by the PUC includes “contract terms and requirements that are out of alignment with reasonable market practice” and precedent established by Maine regulators and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission...........................

...........................PUC Chairman Philip L. Bartlett II said last week that contract negotiations are continuing and a resolution would be forthcoming “in the very near future.”

The transmission agreement is the first of its kind and must conform to Massachusetts’ commitments, meet Maine’s goals established in a 2021 state law designed to remove obstacles and promote the development of renewable energy resources in northern Maine, and manage risk for ratepayers, Bartlett said.

Versant said it “unequivocally” supports the clean energy policy of the Northern Maine Renewable Energy Development Program and that it’s still possible for the transmission line and Longroad wind farm to meet these goals.

“Versant’s role in this discussion is to ensure that its customers get value for dollars paid in the manner contemplated” by 2021 state legislation and get the same deal as Massachusetts customers and benefits from coordination between the transmission and wind farm projects, it said.


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Comment by Penny Gray on December 5, 2023 at 1:09pm

Dan, you should post your excellent comments on the PPH site.

Comment by Dan McKay on December 5, 2023 at 6:03am

Our overseer of matters involving the lowly ratepayers deems we are not caring enough about our lands, our budgets and our security to know any of the details of this project. LS Power remains protected from the eyes of the public. We will never know what goes on behind closed doors until the onslaught is well under way.

Comment by Dan McKay on December 5, 2023 at 5:25am
ISO-NE socializes reliability projects amongst the six states, such that a transmission project deemed to be necessary for the stability of the grid shares its costs among the six states based on relative consumption of electricity for each state. In this scenario, Maine would be on the hook for 9% of the cost. This transmission project is not deemed a reliability project, therefore Maine is on the hook for over 6 times the cost = 60%. Anyone claiming this project is good for Maine is lying through their teeth.


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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