And this one is a double-wammy!
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Wind developers are high-fiving today. An RFP was issued this morning by the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for a legislature-mandated transmission corridor that seeks to bridge the gap between Aroostook and the New England grid. While this is momentous, it’s not merely another transmission corridor case. This 12 month RFP is the cake AND the frosting too, because it also requests proposals for renewable generation in Aroostook.
Even as the CMP/NECEC war rages on, this is one to monitor.
The only scalable mountain wind power sites remaining in Maine are Downeast and Upnorth, especially Aroostook and upper Somerset Counties. Between the Expedited Area opt-outs and the bevy of local wind ordinances, Big Wind has few options south of Kibby. This is made even more fraught because folks in the Kibby/Jackman/Forks/Canada Highway region are clearly on record after their tenacious 2021 defense of their "pristine woods" against the CMP/NECEC corridor. There might be an opportunity or two for small boutiquey projects like the new one in Roxbury, but for the most part, Western Maine is played out.
Aroostook is the real frontier. Once the long-awaited transmission connection is in place, if the industry wants, they could throw up turbines not only west of Route 1, but west of Route 11, west of the Allagash, west of the St. John... all the way to the Canadian border... from Madawaska and Fort Kent down through Clayton Lake, Daaquaam, Big Six, maybe as far as Hammond and Prentiss toward Boundary Bald Mountain.
There's nobody there to care, not even NRCM. The Telos, Reality, Oxbow, Saint Juste and Blanchette Roads are all perfect pathways for turbines. If the New England states - including Maine – continue to seek clean energy procurements, this is where big wind can/will go big. (This also explains why Big Wind joined Oil and Natural Gas generation plants, NRCM, et al in the anti- NECEC coalition.)
EDP and others have plans (with land leases) for 1400 to 2000 MW in The County. There's enough space up there for 3000 MW or more. The (redacted) record in the MPRP more than a decade ago revealed the mammoth plans that First Wind and its insidious revenant descendants had/have for Northern Maine. The Oakfield project pretty much tapped out Northern Maine. Big Solar is also interested. For a decade they've all been losing bids in southern New England clean energy procurement RFPs because of their inability to deliver.
As we say, "if wind energy is the heist, transmission is the getaway car." They've all been waiting and pushing for a way to get the electricity to market, and now it's finally happening.
How is it happening? Look to Augusta.
Senate President Troy Jackson can get pretty much anything he wants written into law. His recently-enacted bill (LD 1710, An Act To Require Prompt and Effective Use of the Renewabl...) was no less significant than the original heinous Wind Act itself. And unlike CMP’s NECEC, which legislators of both parties overwhelmingly oppose, Jackson's corridor (at least to-date) is a slam dunk created/enabled by sycophantic legislators.
Ask yourself how this looks process familiar:
Jackson’s after-deadline "emergency" bill (the normal deadline to submit bills was back in December) was printed and released to the public on Friday May 14, a few weeks before 2021 adjournment. Because committees were done with their work and Augusta was scrambling to wrap up its remaining business for the year, they waived the 2-week public hearing notice period. The Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee (EUT) public hearing was two business days later, on Tuesday May 18. It gets better: it passed the EUT committee with only one NO vote (Representative Wadsworth). When the EUT committee reported the bill out to the legislature, the legislation leapfrogged the perennial late-session log jam of hundreds of bills, and within 24 hours it sailed through the House and Senate without a word of debate, or a single recorded vote. Unanimous. Under the hammer. Nothing to see here folks.
Starting today, the PUC case is open for bids and public comments.
Here is the link to view the new Case File
Here is the link where you can submit comments and ask to be on the email notice list.
For details about how this case arose, how it will quickly proceed, and how much discretion the PUC is given, you should read this Notice of Inquiry the PUC sent out a few months ago.
For a truly startling glimpse at how much energy infrastructure could be coming to Maine, peruse the 32 interested party responses to the above Notice.