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March 26, 2018

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

With Massachusetts poised to select Central Maine Power's 145-mile New England Clean Energy Connect transmission line project as the runner-up bid to replace the Northern Pass project if it doesn't secure a permit by New Hampshire by March 27, CMP's project might not be a slam-dunk bid for the Bay State either.

The Maine Sunday Telegram reported on Sunday that three companies that own one-third of Maine's generating capacity are seeking to intervene in the approval process already under way at the Maine Public Utilities Commission for CMP's NECEC project to deliver 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydro power to Massachusetts. The companies seeking intervenor status, according to the newspaper, are:

  • Calpine Corp., the largest generator of electricity from natural gas and geothermal resources in the U.S. and the owner of a large natural-gas-fired station in Westbrook. It's also in the early stages of developing a wind farm in Norway.
  • Dynegy Inc., an electric company based in Houston, Texas, that owns and operates a number of power stations in the U.S., all of which are natural gas-fueled or coal-fueled. It's the largest power generator in New England and the owner of Casco Bay Energy Facility, a natural-gas-fired plant in Veazie.
  • Bucksport Generation LLC, which owns a gas-diesel-biomass plant next to the former Verso paper mill in Bucksport.

According to the Maine Sunday Telegram, the three companies claim that CMP's project could threaten the "continued economic viability" of their Maine plants — a point that John Carroll, spokesman for Avangrid, CMP's power company, countered by pointing out that each of those companies profit when natural gas prices spike and force up electric prices in New England, typically during periods of extreme weather.

Buying Canadian hydro power, on the other hand, would mitigate that trend and is expected to lower electricity costs in New England by $3.9 billion over the 20-year span of the Bay State's clean power contract, Carroll told the newspaper. "You're hearing from companies that make money burning natural gas to make electricity, and they see some of their opportunity at risk," he said.

CMP's project faces public hearings at the PUC in early August, according to the schedule published on PUC's website. Several other parties, including NextEra Energy Resources, Natural Resources Council of Maine and Conservation Law Foundation, have also filed requests for intervenor status.

Read more

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CMP's $950M proposal selected as 'alternative' clean energy bid by Massachusetts

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

Emera parent company, like CMP, to proceed with its clean energy project

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

CMP touts $950M bid as best deal among clean energy bidders

CMP ready to flow: New England Clean Energy Connect bid includes 1,000 MW of power from Hydro-Quebec

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