Courtesy of Chris Lander
By Lori Valigra •
October 19, 2018 1:00 am
Courtesy of Central Maine Energy
The talk about whether or not Central Maine Energy ought to be capable of pipe hydroelectricity from Canada to Massachusetts via a new 145-mile transmission line hall in western Maine boiled over this week as opponents and proponents argued about points close to and pricey to Mainers: jobs, reasonably priced power, nature’s magnificence and local weather change.
This week, events on each side of the difficulty held a collection of conferences and different boards that introduced Mainers with the important thing points in the talk, and the way they could have an effect on people’ charges, property taxes and views out their home windows.
The occasions set the stage for the primary of 4 conferences beginning Friday on the Maine Public Utilities Fee, one of many regulators that should approve the New England Clear Power Join project.
“The hearings that start Friday are to hear from and ask questions of the witnesses from the parties in the case,” stated Harry Lanphear, the fee’s administrative director. The witnesses and intervenors formally utilized for standing to remark through the case and current info for the commissioners to think about as they weigh whether or not to approve the $950 million project.
Within the meantime, the PUC continues to obtain a flurry of submissions on its web site, with greater than 100 public feedback added since mid-September to complete 438 as of mid-afternoon Thursday.
Following different hearings all through November, the PUC expects to concern an Examiner’s Report on Dec. 7 about its findings. CMP should that show the project supplies a public profit.
Courtesy of Ted Varipatis
Voices of help
Kicking off occasions this week, on Tuesday, six corporations and teams shaped a pro-NECEC coalition referred to as the Mainers for Clear Power Jobs. It was introduced at Gaslight Park in Lewiston. The six inaugural members are the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Related Common Contractors of Maine, the Worldwide Brotherhood of Electrical Staff Native 104, Related Builders and Contractors of Maine, E.S. Boulos Firm, and Cianbro.
The coalition is backing the project, a collaboration between CMP and Hydro-Quebec, citing jobs and different financial actions the group believes it can create to profit Mainers.
CMP has stated the NECEC project will add $1 billion to Maine’s financial system over the subsequent 10 years, together with Maine electrical clients saving about $200 million in decrease wholesale electrical prices. The project is predicted to create 1,700 jobs yearly throughout its 20-year life and three,500 jobs at peak development, with a concentrate on western Maine.
“I support the New England Energy Connect Project,” Peter Vigue, chairman of the Cianbro Corporations, informed the Bangor Daily News. “I believe we should be focused on the future of the state of Maine. Natural gas, nuclear, oil and coal represent 80 percent of our current electrical generation in Maine and New England. None of that is renewable.”
“At the end of the day when you look at renewables like hydroelectric, wind, municipal waste and solar, they are only 20 percent of our renewable energy today … that won’t be adequate to fuel Maine’s future growth,” he continued.
Vigue stated Quebec has plentiful clear electrical energy to fulfill the wants of Maine and New England.
Courtesy of Hydro-Quebec
With the approaching 200th anniversary of the state of Maine coming in 2020, the NECEC project is an financial initiative that may start an financial drive for the subsequent 200 years, he stated.
Cianbro, which labored on CMP’s $1.Four billion Maine Energy Reliability Program grid improve in 2010, additionally hopes to work on the NECEC project.
Ben Dudley, an unbiased marketing consultant who organized the enterprise coalition, stated local weather change, together with the just lately launched Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change’s October report advocating speedy modifications to mitigate it, spurred him to motion on the NECEC.
Dudley is a former consultant of Portland’s Munjoy Hill neighborhood in the Maine Home of Representatives.
“We need to get serious about this now,” he stated, including the NECEC might assist scale back greenhouse fuel emissions linked to the warming local weather.
“As a Mainer I’m excited because Maine could be a leader to bring clean energy and address climate change, and we could lower electricity prices,” he stated.
For Tim Burgess, enterprise consultant for IBEW Native 104, the project is about jobs. He stated Maine doesn’t have a lot of huge electrical infrastructure tasks, so union staff go to different states to work on giant tasks.
“I’m in this for jobs,” he stated.
He stated IBEW additionally plans to have an apprenticeship program if the NECEC project is permitted. IBEW had apprentices on the Maine Energy Reliability Program who ended up turning a coaching program into a profession.
Burgess stated he feels CMP is making an attempt to mix the facility strains in with the native terrain, though loads of residents in the areas the place the strains will move by means of and different members of the general public have disagreed with that viewpoint.
Environmental worth questioned
Earlier than the general public listening to, on Wednesday morning a number of environmental teams launched a 70-page report difficult the advantages CMP claims for the project and Hydro-Quebec’s said plans for its hydroelectric provide. Energyzt Advisors of Boston ready the report for the Maine Renewable Power Affiliation, Nationwide Assets Council of Maine and the Sierra Membership.
The report got here earlier than the third and ultimate public remark listening to on the PUC that night in Hallowell. Greater than 100 residents attended the assembly, many talking towards the project by citing questionable financial and environmental advantages to Maine, and potential injury to scenic assets.
Of the attendees, 59 have been registered to talk, in accordance with Lanphear, so their feedback might be entered into the PUC’s official data.
Among the many claims in the Energyzt report is that the NECEC project wouldn’t scale back carbon air pollution and thus not have a profit for local weather change. It additionally states that the transmission line would redirect present energy era from different markets into New England, probably creating extra carbon emissions in markets experiencing the shift.
“Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing Maine, the nation and the world,” stated Sue Ely, clear power lawyer for the Pure Assets Council of Maine. “This report shows that CMP’s proposed transmission line would do nothing to reduce climate emissions. The study shows there will be just as much climate pollution created with or without this power line. Hydro-Quebec would merely be redirecting its existing electricity supply to Massachusetts instead of selling that power to other customers.”
The arguments have been introduced earlier than by the council and others, and will probably be a part of upcoming discussions earlier than the PUC.
Hydro-Quebec spokeswoman Lynn St-Laurent countered that the NECEC is an integral part of New England’s clear power transition as a result of it permits will increase of hydropower deliveries into the area.
“Hydropower emits 50 times less greenhouse gases than natural gas; that’s just good climate policy,” she wrote in an e-mail responding to an Bangor Daily News request for touch upon the report.
She stated Hydro-Quebec does have the capability to provide the NECEC project, and that it’ll use its present hydropower capability, which incorporates 5,00zero megawatts of latest hydropower capability introduced on because the early 2000s, together with the Romaine-Three producing station (395 MW) added in 2017.
The utility will quickly add producing stations, together with the Romaine-Four (245MW). As soon as that comes on-line, she stated, it should additionally serve to extend the present power output from the Romaine -1, -2 and -Three producing stations.
“The fact of the matter is Hydro-Quebec has additional energy available for Massachusetts. We have been adding capacity since 2003 to be in a position where we have the energy to respond to new clean energy needs,” she stated.
“More generation will be brought online in coming years,” she added. “Had we waited for clean energy procurements to be launched before building, our additional units wouldn’t be ready today. It takes 10 to 15 years to build and design a hydropower generating station.”
A late change
In a main concession on Thursday, CMP seceded from a controversial plan that might have put aerial transmission strains close to the scenic Kennebec River Gorge, as an alternative saying it might bury the strains close to the Kennebec River.
CMP’s President and CEO Doug Herling stated Thursday that burying the strains has all the time been into account. The corporate plans to file the change with regulators.
“We believe this change may also encourage stronger support from those who appreciate the project’s benefits, but want to preserve the commercial and aesthetic value of the river as well,” he stated.
The transfer got here a day after the general public listening to Wednesday night and a day earlier than the subsequent part of PUC scrutiny.
Comply with the Bangor Daily News enterprise information on Twitter: @BDNbiz.
Comply with the Bangor Daily News on Fb for the newest Maine information.
For a roundup of Maine’s newest enterprise information, click on right here to enroll for the BDN’s Business publication, despatched out each weekday morning.