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June 25, 2018
Focus: Energy

CMP aims to deliver Canadian hydropower to Bay State utilities by 2022

Central Maine Power Co. aims to deliver renewable hydropower to Massachusetts by 2022 via a $950 million transmission line from the Canadian border to the grid in Lewiston.

The Bay State is looking to the New England Clean Energy Connect project to help it meet ambitious clean-energy goals. CMP is a subsidiary of Avangrid Inc. (NYSE: AGR), which is part of Spain's Iberdrola S.A. (Madrid: IBE).

CMP won the 20-year contract in a joint bid with Hydro-Québec in March.

"From a strategic standpoint, it's absolutely aligned with our goal as a company in creating a cleaner, smarter energy future, and that includes providing transmission solutions to serve regional needs," says Avangrid spokesman John Carroll. He adds that the project's financial importance will be discussed in future public disclosures but has not been included in long-term projections.

Although the line will not deliver power to customers in Maine, CMP projects several benefits for the state over 20 years, including $40 million in annual wholesale energy cost savings, $564 million added to Maine's GDP and $18 million in extra tax income for host communities. It also projects an average of 1,700 new Maine jobs created annually during the six-year permitting and construction phase.

Carroll says the aim is to have all state permits by the end of 2018 or the first quarter of 2019, and final federal approvals by late 2019 so that construction can start soon after. It remains to be seen whether environmental concerns by some groups will affect the timetable.

Project still faces obstacles

The Natural Resources Council of Maine reiterated its objections in response to CMP signing a contract with Massachusetts utilities on June 14, expressing "deep concerns" that the project "will not result in a reduction in carbon emissions and may even contribute to an increase." It also called CMP's pledge to invest $22 million in western Maine conservation and nature-based tourism projects, as agreed with the Western Mountains and Rivers Corp. nonprofit organization, a "publicity stunt."

Avangrid's Carroll counters that some of NRCM's issues "will be addressed in the permitting, and some of them are not germane to Maine regulations."

Read more

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