Bangor Daily News: A natural gas solution

A natural gas solution

Posted Aug. 31, 2012, at 5:20 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 31, 2012, at 5:39 p.m.
A pickup truck makes its way along the Stud Mill Road in the area of 5th Machias Lake in Washington County. The natural gas pipeline on the left side of the road runs from Nova Scotia and follows the Stud Mill Road across eastern Maine.
Bob DeLong | BDN
A pickup truck makes its way along the Stud Mill Road in the area of 5th Machias Lake in Washington County. The natural gas pipeline on the left side of the road runs from Nova Scotia and follows the Stud Mill Road across eastern Maine.

Gov. Paul LePage is right to say Maine needs natural gas. But getting more of the clean-burning, affordable fuel into the state will require a continued long-term effort on the part of not just the government, but also businesses, industrial operations and residents.

Natural gas pipeline networks are market-driven and will be built only where there is the demand to justify the cost of building them. The reality is that natural gas will likely not be piped to every rural area of the state. But, with oil currently costing about eight times as much as natural gas on an energy-equivalent basis, gas will become a greater part of the energy mix. Maine should be prepared to take advantage of the inexpensive resource to not only heat more homes but, when possible, generate more electricity and power vehicles.

Natural gas distributors need to build the infrastructure now in areas where it’s viable to do so, which may create more demand and more opportunities for different uses. The process is currently on standby in central Maine, where Summit Natural Gas of Maine and Maine Natural gas are awaiting a decision from the state’s Bureau of General Services on which distributor will build an Augusta-area pipeline.

Natural gas is present in portions of Maine’s more populated areas. Unitil delivers natural gas to parts of the Portland area, Lewiston, Auburn and Kittery. Bangor Gas serves parts of Bangor, Brewer, Old Town, Orono and Veazie. Maine Natural Gas serves parts of Windham, Gorham, Bowdoin, Topsham and Brunswick. In addition, natural gas is the dominant fuel for electricity generation in Maine and has accounted for at least 40 percent of generation since 2001,according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In Portland, about half the bus fleet runs on natural gas.

Expanding the current piping network is complicated because putting in lines will mostly be up to private companies — although public entities can pursue doing so as well — and potential usage must to be high enough to warrant construction. No bank or investor will loan a company the money to build a line if the company can’t demonstrate its anticipated return; the Maine Public Utilities Commission requires a great enough demand, too. So this is where the matter gets local.

Town officials can work with interested pipeline developers and educate their communities about realistic benefits. Some industrial users, such as mills, have already found a way to operate with natural gas — either by connecting to an existing line, trucking in compressed natural gas or using it to generate electricity on site — but some have not yet made the change. They can examine whether to do so and be prepared.

Please continue reading this piece in the Bangor Daily News here.

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Comment by Frank J. Heller, MPA on September 1, 2012 at 10:51am

Hey Brad, you look great on TV. 

Be sure to work in the two power purchase agreements for the STATOIL offshore wind farm before the PUC. One would sell us power for 29 cents/Kwh and the other for 32 cents/Kwh. This cost does not include transmission and grid enhancements. 

A wee bit more than the estimated 6 cents from Hydro Quebec, but Mainers are so rich they can afford it.

Comment by Frank J. Heller, MPA on September 1, 2012 at 10:47am

I tried out the new fuel calculator found at the energy office website in anticipation of an estimate to convert the oil fired boiler, and electric clothes drier to natural gas. 

WOW...would save one third of the cost of fuel oil and ????on the electric for the drier....it just won't break....what's the record for continuous use of an appliance??? 40 years and going strong.

The natural gas vehicle association and the U.S. BIOGAS association are strongly promoting vehicle conversions to Compressed Natural Gas, and manufacturing bio-gas from organic solid and liquid waste.

One goal to be discussed at the Maine Clean Communities' Stakeholder Meeting

September 19th, 2012 is generating the gas which runs the Portland buses from organic solid waste, i.e. green waste, sludge, food waste, etc. 

Comment by Brad Blake on August 31, 2012 at 11:31pm

Natural gas powered electricity generation versus wind power is an absurd comparison.  In the Bangor Area, the "Maine Independence Station" is a 520 MW combined cycle gas fired generator, sitting on a 30 acre parcel.  The plant was built in 2000 for $300 million at a site that already had transmision lines.  It cranks out predictable, reliable megawatts 24/7 as a base load facility.  Unless you are looking for it, very few people see it tucked away on the river side in Veazie.

 

To equal this output would mean 1800 wind turbines, sprawling over 300 miles of ridges that are blasted away and leveled.  50,000 acres would be clearcut.  Hundreds of miles of new transmission lines would criss cross the state like a spider web.  Cost would be more than $5 billion!  These projections are based on the impacts and costs of existing Maine wind projects.

 

Everywhere we would go, the looming presense of turbines the height of Boston skyscrapers (Vestas V100 turbine:  479 ft tall; the tallest building in New England, Boston's John Hancock tower:  790 ft. tall) will dominate the views of our beautiful state.  Lastly, the problem that plagues wind power would still be there.  It generates electricity only when certain conditions prevail.  It is unpredictable, unreliable, and non-dispatchable.

 

I will take cost effective, reliable gas fired electricity generation over the fickle folly of wind any time!

 

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

******** IF LINKS BELOW DON'T WORK, GOOGLE THEM*********

(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 https://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?" https://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.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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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."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

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