The main purpose of this article is to show a large quantity of hydro energy can be obtained from Canada at much less cost and environmental damage to the New England economy and environment than building out wind energy on ridgelines. In this article, I assumed the ISO-NE energy from wind would be either 100% on shore, or 50% offshore and 50% onshore.


Most New England coal, oil, and nuclear plants likely would be phased out over the next 20 - 30 years. Those 3 sources were 38% of total NE energy in 2014 (pg. 14). Eventually, even gas energy may become a lesser percentage.


That means something major, and low in cost/kWh, would have to replace the 38%, and solar, biomass, small hydro, etc., would likely not be major enough, would take tens of billions of dollars and several decades to build out, and would produce high-cost energy as well, all to the long-term detriment of the New England economy, which already has average electric rates of 20+ c/kWh, including all taxes, fees, surcharges, about 7 c/kWh greater than the US average.


It likely would take about 20 - 30 years to phase in about 40% wind energy, equivalent to the energy from about 22,046 MW of wind turbines, equivalent to (7,349) 3 MW turbines.


Regarding gas, ISO-NE had about 50% gas energy on its system in 2016 (see URL), up from 20% in 2000. A future of 55% – 60% gas energy is entirely reasonable.


ISO-NE: “With plentiful, inexpensive supply from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and New York right at New England’s doorstep, natural gas continues to be the fuel of choice for new power plant construction in the region.” (pg. 12).


New England Generated Electricity, by Source: In 2016, NE generated electricity fed into the high voltage grid was:



 NE Production

 NE Generation





























 After 10 years of subsidies




 After 10 years of subsidies

Landfill Gas








Total RE













NOTE: NE Imports: 20711 GWh, or 20711/124323 x 100 = 16.7% of NE consumption


Non-Hydro RE Systems and Household Energy Costs: The below URL has a graph of household electricity cost, c/kWh, versus installed wind + solar capacity, watt/capita, for 18 European countries. The graph shows the more wind + and solar capacity/capita, the higher a country’s household energy cost/kWh!! The graph is based on BP-2015 and Eurostat data.


RE aficionados have been claiming RE system capital costs, $/MW, and renewable energy costs, c/kWh, would be coming down, because of efficiencies, but the graph shows that, despite those efficiencies, OTHER RE-related costs increase, such as for balancing the variable wind energy, grid build-outs and storage systems. Those costs are mostly charged to household electricity rates by means of taxes, fees and surcharges, c/kWh, which likely resulted in higher costs of other goods and services as well.


This should give pause regarding proceeding with decades-long, heavily subsidized, RE build-outs in New England, such as wind turbines, when another RE alternative, i.e., low-cost, near-zero-CO2-emitting hydro energy from Canada, is available in 2018 (after the planned 1000 MW, New England Clean Power Link is in service), at much less capital cost, much lower energy cost, and much less environmental impact, as is clearly shown in this article. See URL, Euan Mearns’ comment, August 6, 2015, at 5:39 pm.


Canadian Energy, Low Capital Cost, Low Energy Cost, Requires No Subsidies: According to ISO-NE Projections, RE, other than hydro, increased from about 5% in 2004 to 9.7% in 2016, after at least 10 years of subsidies, and would increase to 14.3% in 2022, after another 8 years of subsidies. Very slow growth indeed, if one is on a mission to “save the planet”!!


Total RE could be 35% by 2022 with additional hydro from Canada. See below table.










ISO-NE projection

More Hydro from Canada











Total RE





Hydro-Quebec Electricity Generation and Purchases: Google this URL for the 2017 facts. The H-Q electricity supply is an order of magnitude cleaner than the Vermont supply.




Hydropower generated 




- Hydro


- Wind


- Biomass and waste reclamation 


- Other


Total RE generated and purchased



NOTE: Gentilly-2 nuclear generating station, plus three thermal generating stations (Tracy, La Citière and Cadillac) were shut down.


Hydro-Quebec Export Electricity: H-Q net exports were 34.4 TWh/y in 2017; provided 27% of H-Q net income, or $780 million, i.e., very profitable.

H-Q export revenue was $1,651 million in 2017, or 1641/34.4 = 4.8 c/kWh. See page 24 of Annual Report URL.

This is for a mix of old and new contracts.

Revenue = 1641

Net profit = 780

Cost = 1641 - 780 = 861

Average cost of H-Q generation = 861/34.4 = 2.5 c/kWh

GMP buys H-Q electricity, at the Vermont border, for 5.549 c/kWh, under a recent contract.   

GMP sells to me at 19 c/kWh, per rate schedule.

H-Q is eager to sell more of its surplus electricity to New England and New York.


It is entirely political what consumers PAY for that electricity.

That is implemented by rate setting, taxes, fees, surcharges, etc., mostly on household electric bills, as in Denmark and Germany, etc.

Vermont electricity supply, by electricity source

Vermont supply to utilities 6,100 GWh in 2016
Vermont population 0.620 million
IMPORTS almost all electricity.




VT hydro


VT methane


H-Q hydro




Includes out of state wind



McNeil, Ryegate


Other RE




Out of state


NE wholesale

Out of state; gas 50%, nuclear 27%




More H-Q Energy Would be a Boon for the Vermont Economy: Buying more hydro from H-Q is the smartest approach for Vermont, instead of every Tom, Dick and Harry being INEFFICIENTLY AND EXPENSIVELY busying them selves generating electricity.


Vermont Wind Costs: Vermont, an area with high levelized capital cost/MWh, high O&M cost/MWh, and low-medium winds (medium CFs), on 2000-ft high ridgelines, has high wind costs/MWh of about 9.5 c/kWh; about 14 - 15 c/kWh without subsidies.


Vermont Solar Costs: All of New England has among the lowest insolation (sunshine) in the US. As a result, solar costs/kWh are much higher than elsewhere in the US.


No subsidies, no cost shifting about 20.00 c/kWh
PPA price = 13.36 c/kWh (average of 5 competitively auctioned projects by PUC)
Excess over midday wholesale about 13.36 - 6 = 7.36 c/kWh.

H-Q Building New Plants, Upgrading Others: Below items 1 through 4 would enable H-Q to have at least 5000 MW x 8766 x 0.60 = 26,298,000 MWh/y, or 26.3 TWh, for export via new power lines that are being proposed, in addition to existing exports. If that electricity were not there, would various private entities propose HVDC power lines worth billions of dollars?


1) Hydro-Québec Production obtained the necessary approvals to build a 1,550-MW hydroelectric complex on the Rivière Romaine, north of the municipality of Havre-Saint-Pierre on the north shore of the St. Lawrence. The complex will consist of four hydro plants, Romaine 1, 2, 3 and 4, with total average output of 8.0 TWh/y; CF 0.60.


2) Other power plants up north are being refurbished (better water flow) and being upgraded with more efficient turbines, i.e., will produce more electricity.


3) Existing plants not being fully utilized (water over the spillways instead of through the turbines, especially in summer).


4) H-Q building future hydro plants and wind systems.


Electricity Supply to New England via External Ties: Quebec, New Brunswick and New York supply about 20.8 million MWh/y of electricity to the NE grid. See table 1.


With additional HVDC transmission lines, the above 4 items likely would enable external tie supply of about 2 x 20.8 = 41.6 million MWh/y by 2050.

The home-grown build-out of expensively subsidized RE systems, that produce expensive, mostly variable, intermittent wind and solar energy at about 2-3 times wholesale prices (subsidized), at about 3-5 times wholesale prices (unsubsidized), is really a short-sighted way to go, as a much better renewable energy source, that is LESS costly/kWh and emits LESS CO2/kWh, is readily available from Hydro-Quebec.


Remember, that energy source:


- Requires NO diversion of scarce capital costs to build-out RE systems

- Causes NO adverse environmental impact in Vermont

- Requires NO subsidies, such as a carbon tax

- Requires NO expensive, ponderous, government bureaucracy to manage the Vermont power sector


Hydro Energy: Hydro is a very important energy source. It should be maximized, wherever feasible, throughout the world, because it is:


- Renewable, as it is made from rainwater.

- Very low in CO2 emissions/kWh, and no particulates, no SOX, no NOX.

- Very low in waste products and environmental impact/kWh, compared to wind and solar.

- Steady, 24/7/365, i.e., NOT variable and NOT intermittent, unlike wind and solar, which are weather dependent, variable cloudiness dependent, night and day dependent, and season dependent unlike wind and solar.

- Provides synchronous rotational inertia for grid stability; wind provides near zero and solar provides none.  

- Very low in electricity cost/kWh; in case of New England, about 5 - 7 c/kWh, tied to annual average New England WHOLESALE prices which have averaged about 5 c/kWh for since 2009, due to an abundance of nearby, DOMESTIC, clean-burning, low-CO2-emitting, low-cost, natural gas.

- The output of hydro plants can be quickly varied, at minimal cost, and with no CO2 emissions, to balance any variable wind and solar energy. If natural gas-fired, gas turbines do the peaking, filling-in balancing they have to more frequently start/stop, and inefficiently ramp up/down, at part-load, i.e., more Btu/kWh, more CO2/kWh, more wear and tear/kWh.

- NO federal and state subsidies and investment tax credits.
- NO capital outlays by Vermont’s government.
- NO enriching of multi-millionaires and their lucrative, risk-free, tax shelters.
- NO additional environmental impact in Vermont and Canada.
- Private entities would own the transmission lines from Quebec to New England.
- RECs would not need to be sold to out-of-state entities so they would be wearing the green halo, instead of Vermonters.
- Much less social discord than controversial wind on pristine ridgelines and solar in fertile meadows.


Whereas, Quebec’s grid has the same 60 Hz as the rest of North America, its grid does not have the same phase. Trans-Energie mainly relies on HVDC transmission systems to eliminate the phase issue, to enable the export and import of electricity from other jurisdictions.ébec


The 60 Hz AC from H-Q would be converted to DC, transmitted, and converted back to 60 Hz AC in NE, to supplement any variable wind and solar energy in NE, to meet demand, instead of using NE gas-fired, CO2 emitting, OCGTs and CCGTs to provide such supplementary energy.


The NE hydro plants could also perform that service, but their capacity likely would be significantly limited, due to not enough water, on a year-round basis. For example, the Wilder Plant is operated as a run-of-river plant during March, April, May, as there is enough melt water. But, to maximize revenues from the available water, it is run as a peaking plant a few hours each day, during the other nine months.


For balancing within a grid, such as the NE grid, see page 28 of 44.


Proposed HVDC Transmission Lines: Getting a significant quantity of hydro energy from Quebec, New Brunswick and Labrador would involve:


- About $5 - $7 billion in new HVDC transmission lines for all of New England,

- NO significant grid changes,

- NO significant generator mix changes, plus

- The wholesale cost of the hydro energy likely would be 5 - 7 c/kWh under 20-year, market-based, contracts. A MAJOR LONG-TERM plus for the New England economy.

- By using HVDC lines, the issue of frequency differences, etc., between grids is moot, because the AC energy from the ORIGINATING grid is converted to DC, which does not have a frequency, and then converted to AC at the frequency of the RECEIVING grid. The operators of the two grids continue to supervise the regulation functions on their grids.


NOTE: HVDC lines have very little loss/mile compared to HVAC lines. There are dozens of onshore and offshore HVDC lines in Europe. Just Google. Here is a URL, go to page 49, and you will see HVDC transmission adds less than 1 c/kWh to the cost of energy.


Four proposed HVDC lines to connect Quebec, New Brunswick and Labrador to New England:


1) Blackstone, a Venture Capital Firm, is planning to build a $1.2 billion, 154-mile, $7.8 million/mile, 1000-MW, HVDC transmission line that would run beneath Lake Champlain. The line, called New England Clean Power Link, would carry hydroelectric and wind power generated in Canada to metropolitan energy markets in the Northeast.


2)  Eversource Energy is planning to build a $1.6 billion, 192-mile, $8.3 million/mile, 1090-MW, HVDC transmission line, called Northern Pass, which would run mostly through New Hampshire to provide energy to Southern New England markets.


3) Champlain Hudson Power Express, a $2.2 billion, 333-mile, $6.6 million/mile, 1000-MW, HVDC transmission line under Lake Champlain and the Hudson River to New York City.


4) Northeast Energy Link, a $2 billion, 230-mile, $8.7 million/mile, 1100-MW, underground, HVDC transmission line from Orrington, ME, to Tewksbury, MA.


Just these four transmission lines could import into New England = 4300 MW x 8760 h/y x CF 0.75 = 25.3 TWh/y, or 25.3/127.2 = 22.2% of New England's total consumption in 2014. 


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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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