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July 27, 2017

CMP proposing new transmission line to tap Hydro-Quebec power

File photo / Tim Greenway
File photo / Tim Greenway
Sara Burns, president and CEO of Central Maine Power Co., stands in the company's energy control center in Augusta. Burns announced today that CMP has submitted several proposals in response to Massachusetts' clean energy RFP, including a new transmission line between Maine and Quebec that the company says could provide $150 million in annual electricity cost savings by tapping the hydropower resources of Hydro-Quebec.
Courtesy / Central Maine Power
The map shows the routes of new transmission lines that CMP is proposing in western Maine, including a line between Maine and Quebec that would enable the New England power grid top tap the hydropower resources of Hydro-Quebec.

Central Maine Power announced today that it has submitted several proposals in response to Massachusetts' clean energy RFP, including a new transmission line between Maine and Quebec that the company says could provide $150 million in annual electricity cost savings by tapping the hydropower resources of Hydro-Quebec.

The various transmission line investments proposed by CMP would deliver energy from wind and solar sources in western Maine in addition to hydropower from eastern Canada.

John Carroll, director of communications for AVANGRID, CMP's parent company, told Mainebiz that Massachusetts' RFP calls for a decision to be made by January 2018. If CMP is selected, he added, negotiations over the currently confidential proposal would immediately begin, with the expectation that the project would begin in late 2018 and be completed in 2022.

"Between now and January we're not going to be sitting on our hands," Carroll said, noting that CMP plans to begin the permitting process immediately so as to be as ready as possible if its bid proves successful.

In a news release, CMP reported that its proposed projects would provide a "range of cost-effective, clean energy solutions that will help stabilize electricity costs, protect consumers, and reduce carbon emissions by 1.4 million metric tons, equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of 280,000 vehicles."

"We're pleased to offer Massachusetts a new choice of highly competitive, clean energy projects in full confidence that we can deliver tremendous value to consumers in the Commonwealth, Maine and other New England states," CMP President and CEO Sara J. Burn said in a statement. "The clean electricity options we offer are good for the environment and consumers. CMP has the advantage of owning all the transmission corridors to minimize distance to the market, development costs and impacts to communities and the environment."

Burns noted CMP "has the proven experience and resources to deliver large-scale projects on-time and on-budget in New England," referring to the $1.4 billion Maine Power Reliability Project completed in 2015 that included several new substations and 440 miles of new transmission lines.

What's involved?

The proposed New England Clean Energy Connect project would provide a new link between Hydro-Québec and the New England grid, beginning at the Canadian border in western Somerset County and running 145 miles to a new AC/DC converter station in Lewiston. The new line, in combination with additional smaller improvements at various facilities in Maine, will have the capacity to deliver up to 1,200 megawatts of power from Hydro-Québec to Massachusetts consumers through the existing regional grid, CMP stated.

The proposed Maine Clean Power Connection project would provide a new high-voltage transmission connection from western Maine to the New England grid. The line would begin at a new substation to be built in Skinner Township in western Somerset County near the Canadian border and run 140 miles to the company's Larrabee Road substation in Lewiston. The new MCPC transmission line, in combination with various additional improvements and new facilities in Maine, will offer a range of new capacity options from 460 megawatts up to 1,110 megawatts to deliver clean energy along with Renewable Energy Credits and other environmental attributes, from varying combinations of wind, solar, and storage facilities in eastern Canada and far western Maine.

Like the NECEC project, the MCPC proposal is slated to become operational by 2022.

CMP stated that the NECEC proposal would result in wholesale electricity cost savings for New England of $3.9 billion over the 20-year life of the project and $406 million annually in increased domestic project. The company estimated that in Maine it would provide annual wholesale energy cost savings of more than $40 million per year for 20 years and reduce carbon emissions by an average of 285,000 metric tons annually.

It estimates the MCPC project would New England customers between $655 million and $1.45 billion over the 20-year life of the project.

Massachusetts' RFP comes less than a year after passage of "An Act Relative to Energy Diversity" in 2016, which is part of a broader effort to reduce the state's energy costs, ensure a reliable electricity grid, and meet long-term greenhouse gas reduction requirements.

Under terms of the Energy Diversity law, Massachusetts seeks contracts for up to 9.45 terawatt hours of clean energy comprised of hydroelectric generation and Class 1 Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard clean energy such as solar, wind and geothermal resources.

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