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February 19, 2021

After Texas blackouts, MPUC will look at climate demands for Maine's electricity grid

The Maine Public Utilities Commission on Thursday launched an investigation into the state’s electricity grid to determine if and how it can meet future demands created by climate change.

The examination will focus on the distribution systems of Maine’s two investor-owned electric utilities, Central Maine Power Co. and Versant Power, according to a news release.

The goal of the project is to find how Maine can best accommodate increasing amounts of renewable energy, including solar installations and energy storage, and growing electrical loads from the state’s heating and transportation sectors.

“To address climate change in the years ahead, we will be placing new demands on our electric distribution system, and we must assess how to modernize the grid at the lowest cost for Maine people,” said Commission Chairman Philip L. Bartlett II. “Recent issues related to interconnection of distributed resources highlight both the challenges we face and the urgency of the need for effective planning.”

The launch of the investigation follows near-catastrophic power outages in Texas, where unusually cold weather triggered equipment failures in the electricity grid and days-long blackouts.

The MPUC investigation will also look at the transparency of information needed so that energy developers and organizations such as the Efficiency Maine Trust can assess system needs and opportunities, the release said.

The commission plans to hire consultants to conduct the examination and provide a report with findings and recommendations, which would be followed by a public review process.

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