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January 26, 2018

CMP to proceed, despite losing Bay State clean energy bid to Northern Pass project

Courtesy / CMP
Courtesy / CMP
Map showing Central Maine Power's New England Clean Energy Connect transmission proposal to connect Hydro-Quebec power to the New England power grid.

Although Massachusetts selected the Eversource Energy's Northern Pass transmission project over Central Maine Power Co.'s competing $950 million bid to deliver more than 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy from Hydro-Quebec, CMP spokesman John Carroll told Mainebiz today that the utility's parent company will proceed with its New England Clean Energy Connect project.

"We are disappointed, but AVANGRID and Central Maine Power continue to believe the proposed New England Clean Energy Connect can contribute to New England's long-term need for clean, renewable energy. The company will keep to its permitting schedule to be ready for a construction start by mid-2019."

Northern Pass picked as sole winner

Massachusetts officials announced Thursday that the Bay State selected only one project out of the 50 proposals that had been submitted to its Clean Energy RFP seeking 20-year power purchase agreements that would help it meet ambitious clean energy goals.

They said final acceptance of the bid and the award of a contract is conditional upon the successful negotiation of the contract and required regulatory approval at the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. "If the bid selected to advance to contract negotiation at this stage does not successfully negotiate contracts, it may result in other bid(s) being selected to advance to contract negotiations," they stated on the Clean Energy RFP's website.

Eversource Energy, (NYSE: ES) a publicly traded, Fortune 500 energy company headquartered in Hartford, Conn., and Boston, Mass., announced Thursday that its 192-mile Northern Pass proposal — which has been reported as costing between $950 million and $1.6 billion — begins at the Canadian border in Pittsburg, N.H., and extends 192 miles to Deerfield, N.H., where it connects with the New England electric grid. Eversource reported that more than 80% of the line would be located along existing transmission corridors or buried along roadways, eliminating potential view impacts in and around the White Mountain National Forest.

"The clean, affordable power flowing over Northern Pass into the New England grid in 2020 will provide customers in the Commonwealth and throughout the region with much-needed energy price stability and emissions reductions and will deliver significant economic and environmental benefit to the region for years to come," said Lee Olivier, Eversource executive vice president of enterprise strategy and business development.

Eversource reported that it expects to receive all state and federal permits by early 2018, adding that the Province of Quebec had granted Hydro-Quebec a permit to construct the hydroelectric transmission line that will connect with Northern Pass at the U.S. border.

"All major contractor and equipment contracts are fully executed to begin construction by mid-2018," Eversource stated. "Northern Pass is expected to be in service by the end of 2020."

Judith Judson, Massachusetts' commissioner of energy resources, told the Associated Press that evaluators determined the Northern Pass project would provide the "greatest overall value," to the state's electric ratepayers, adding that when completed, the line is expected to deliver the equivalent of 17% of the state's current electric load.

CMP taking the 'long' view

Carroll declined to speculate on why Northern Pass was selected over CMP's NECEC proposal. Instead, he said CMP would proceed with its project, citing the New England region's continuing need for low-cost power sources that would alleviate the region's dependence on natural gas.

"It's important in this business to have a long-term perspective, because projects like this take a long time to develop from concept to completion," he said in a follow-up written statement sent to Mainebiz. "In this case, the possibility of moving the in-service date from 2022 to 2020 with the Northern Pass Transmission seems to have been important, maybe decisive, so we want to make sure we're well along in our planning and permitting for the next opportunity."

In his phone interview with Mainebiz, Carroll identified several reasons why CMP is confident there will be a "next opportunity."

"Interest in renewable energy is strong throughout New England, and the success of the Massachusetts' RFP may encourage other states to pursue similar proposals," he said.

Other factors he cited:

  • CMP has made significant progress in planning and permitting for an eventual connection to hydro and wind energy resources in Quebec
  • It has completed control of the corridor and substation sites on its 145-mile transmission proposals.
  • It has received strong community and stakeholder support from the townships and municipal officials the proposed transmission line from Quebec would traverse.
  • All state and federal permits have been submitted and are on track for final approvals by the first quarter of 2019.
  • In January, ISO-New England repeated its forecast that 4,600 megawatts of power generation could retire in the next four years.

"As the recent RFP decision shows, there is a clear sense of urgency to develop new sources of renewable energy without delay, so we want our project to be ready to deliver at the first opportunity," Carroll stated.

Read more

Three companies seek to block CMP's Hydro Quebec transmission project

N.H. regulators reject $1.6B Northern Pass clean energy project

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Map of CMP's New England Clean Energy Connect corridor

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