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Progress for planned transmission in New England

Wind power prospects in the energy-hungry New England region took a major step forward with the announcement of a new transmission line that is considered critical to unlocking more than a gigawatt of stranded wind energy in northern Maine. Called the Maine Power Connection (MPC), the joint project would connect northern Maine and its wind-friendly Aroostock County directly with Maine utilities and the New England electricity market, which needs wind power to comply with state laws requiring utilities to acquire a certain percentage of their supplies to customers from renewables. Aroostock, however, is currently disconnected from the New England market, instead tying into New Brunswick's system in Canada. Major wind developers have been scouting out the county for years hoping to one day connect projects directly from the county with the New England market. Horizon Wind Energy, among others, has filed interconnection requests for a multi-phase project that could top 800 MW, but the plan has been stalled largely due to the transmission constraints. That could now change. Utilities Central Maine Power (CMP) and Maine Public Service Co (MPS) are undertaking to build a $625 million, 200 mile, 345 kV transmission line along with associated substation upgrades. They jointly filed last month with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to spread the costs of the project to consumers in the regional New England electricity market. FERC has previously shown a willingness to approve similar cost-recovery plans for opening up stranded renewables resources and promoting competition among generators.

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