The state's utilities regulators have approved a first-of-its-kind energy pilot project in the Boothbay region designed as an alternative to the construction of additional transmission lines in the region.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission yesterday approved the partnership among Portland-based GridSolar, Maine's Public Advocate, Conservation Law Foundation, Environment Northeast and the Efficiency Maine Trust to develop the smart grid project, according to a press release. The project includes energy efficiency, renewable and non-renewable generation and demand response, which encourages users to cut back on their usage during peak times, and is intended to meet the region's energy need without an $18 million transmission line upgrade. According to the release, the pilot will test whether non-transmission alternatives can improve grid reliability at a lower cost and with less environmental impact than new transmission line construction. Efficiency Maine Trust will help area businesses upgrade their inefficient appliances.
GridSolar in 2009 proposed installing hundreds of acres of solar panels across the state as a rival proposal to Central Maine Power Co.'s $1.5 billion Maine Power Reliability Program. The PUC in May 2010 approved CMP's project, but with the inclusion of GridSolar's pilot project to explore non-transmission alternatives in Portland and the midcoast. According to the press release, CMP supported the pilot project but objected to one provision; the details of that objection weren't specified.