Why fossil-fuel generators oppose the CMP hydropower corridor

By Lori Valigra, BDN Staff • February 10, 2020 6:00 am
Updated: February 10, 2020 7:27 am

Fossil fuel and nuclear generation companies could lose millions of dollars in revenue annually — or $1.8 billion over 15 years — if Central Maine Power Co.’s hydropower corridor is approved, according to a new study released Monday.

The $1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect project, known as the NECEC, could lower wholesale energy prices paid to companies that generate electricity in New England and in turn lower prices for consumers, according to the report by Stepwise Data Research, an economic analysis firm in Yarmouth.

While some consumers might welcome that news, lower wholesale prices would pressure struggling energy producers in Maine and across New England, making it more difficult for them to stay in business, experts say.

The report for the first time estimates the dollar value of the project’s effect on existing energy-generation companies. The study was commissioned by Mainers for Clean Energy Jobs, a group of individuals, businesses and associations that support the CMP project.

“This study quantifies the economic impact on existing fossil fuel and nuclear generators,” said Benjamin Dudley, director of the group. He’s also a former legislator from Portland and a former chairman of the Maine Democratic Party.

He said the analysis answers a fundamental question about why Calpine Corp., a natural gas-fired generator in Westbrook, opposes the project.

“The answer: they and other fossil fuel generators across New England will lose a billion dollars in revenue once this clean hydroelectricity starts flowing into Maine,” he said.

Continue reading at:


ISO-NE: The Rapid Transformation of New England’s Power System and Implications for Wholesale Electricity Markets (1/23/19)



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Comment by Dan McKay on February 10, 2020 at 4:16pm

State subsidized resources who get an out of market contract with prices exceeding the average ISO-NE market prices bid as price takers in the day ahead and real time markets, which means they will take the clearinghouse price which is normally set by natural gas. Hydro from the NECEC is produced at far less costs than wind and solar, but, it too will be a price taker in the New England market. Natural Gas, the resource with no state subsidies or out of market contracts must price honestly or makes no profit.  Can natural gas with essentially no competition in pricing, jack up prices with the remaining output that isn't  displaced by subsidized, price taking resources ? Maybe. that type of issue is called market power and ISO-NE tries to monitor for it, but, sometimes....One thing is for sure the electricity from NECEC will displace market participants who go without stae subsidized contracts.

Comment by Art Brigades on February 10, 2020 at 2:13pm

During NECEC's PUC proceeding NextEra - which owns Wyman Station (oil) and Seabrook Station (nuke) -- submitted sworn testimony that NECEC would cost Saebrook $30 million per year because of resulting suppressed market prices on the ISO-NE. Wyman generates a whisper of the power generated at Seabrook, but don't assume most of those losses will hit Seabrook, which is a big spoke in the New England wheel. Wyman in 2018 operated at less than 2% capacity factor while getting energy revenues of $16 million and while taking capacity payments of $53 million. Those capacity payments (free money for staying open/ready) are in jeopardy with NECEC plugged into ISO-NE. NextEra doesn't want to spit out that teat.

Comment by Willem Post on February 10, 2020 at 12:58pm

Stepwise Data Research, an economic analysis firm in Yarmouth, has it wrong. That study is bogus.

The NE low-cost producers, NUCLEAR and GAS (about 75% of all NE generated electricity), have NOTHING to worry about, if more low-cost and clean Canadian hydro electricity is added to the NE grid.

The NE high-cost producers of EXPENSIVE, VARIABLE, INTERMITTENT wind and solar electricity have a LOT TO WORRY ABOUT, if more low-cost and CLEANER Canadian electricity is added to the NE grid.

NE should have much more of clean (no particulates, etc.), near-zero-CO2 hydro electricity from Canada, which is eager to sell to us at a low c/kWh. GMP is buying about 1.2 million MWh/y of HQ electricity at about 5.7 c/kWh, under a recent 20-y contract.


However, greedy, subsidy-seeking, renewable energy entities in Vermont, working in cahoots with legislators and career bureaucrats, have been keeping it out for years.


They want electricity production, mostly heavily subsidized, wind and solar, done the home-grown, expensive way.

That electricity is made to LOOK less expensive by subsidies and cost shifting, but if subsidies and cost shifting are included, it would be very expensive. See Appendix.


A standard 1000 MW transmission line from Quebec to the Vermont border, about $1.5 billion, mostly paid for by Canada, could provide about 4.5 billion kWh/y of very clean, near-zero CO2, no particulate pollution, STEADY, 98% hydro-electricity, from Hydro Quebec, for about 6.5 c/kWh, under a 20-y contract.


The price would be adjusted based on at NE grid wholesale prices, which have been about 5 c/kWh starting in 2009, 11 years. It is the far beyond rational for Vermont to not buy more H-Q electricity.

Comments on Below Wind and SolarTable


Indirect subsidies are due to loan interest deduction and depreciation deductions from taxable incomes.

Direct subsidies are due to up front grants, waiving of state sales taxes, and/or local property (municipal and school) taxes. See URL.


An owner of ridgeline wind would have to sell his output at 18.8 c/kWh, if the owner were not getting the benefits of cost shifting and upfront cash grants and subsidies.

That owner could sell his output at 16.4 c/kWh, if his costs were reduced due to cost shifting.

He could sell his output at 9 c/kWh, if on top of the cost shifting, he also received various subsidies. The same rationale holds for solar. See table.


In NE construction costs of ridgeline wind and offshore wind are high/MW, and the capacity factor of wind is about 0.285 and of solar about 0.14. Thus, NE wind and solar have high prices/MWh. See table.


In US areas, such as the Great Plains, Texas Panhandle and Southwest, with much lower construction costs/MW and much better sun and wind conditions than New England, wind and solar electricity prices/MWh are less.


Those lower prices often are mentioned, without mentioning other factors, by the pro-RE media and financial consultants, such as Bloomberg, etc., which surely deceives the lay public


Future electricity cost/MWh, due to the planned build-out of NE offshore wind added to the planned build-out of NE onshore wind, likely would not significantly change, because of the high costs of grid extensions and upgrades to connect the wind plants and to provide significantly increased connections to the New York and Canadian grids.


NOTE: For the past 20 years, Germany and Denmark have been increasing their connections to nearby grids, because of their increased wind and solar.


The subsidy percentages in below table are from a cost analysis of NE wind and solar in this article. See URL.



Values for 2018 are represented in below table.


NE Wind/Solar

NE Wind


NE Solar






Price to utility

No direct/indirect subsidies

No cost shifting





Less cost shifting





Price to utility

No direct/indirect subsidies

With cost shifting





Less subsidy, wind

45% of 16.4



Less subsidy, solar

45% of 21.4



Price to utility*

With direct/indirect subsidies

With cost shifting






* Owner prices to utilities are based on recent 20-year electricity supply contracts awarded by competitive bidding in New England. These prices would have been about 48% to 50% higher without the direct and indirect subsidies and the cost shifting. Similar percentages apply in areas with better wind and solar conditions, and lower construction costs/MW, than New England. The prices, c/MWh, in those areas are lower than New England.

Comment by Kenneth Capron on February 10, 2020 at 12:06pm

Somebody doesn't understand how cheap nuclear power production has become. Newer reactor models can be as small as a school bus.

What happens when electricity costs fall below the threshold value of solar and wind? If government would get out of the way, companies like CMP could buy cheaper energy without all the interference. Do we really care how prices fall as long as they just fall?


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 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."


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