AUGUSTA – Today, the Maine Public Utilities Commission gave final approval to the winning transmission and distribution bids – LS Power Base and Longroad Energy’s King Pine – for the Northern Maine Renewable Energy Program. The vote comes on the heels of a commitment from Massachusetts to help finance the construction of a northern Maine transmission line and purchase power through the Northern Maine Renewable Energy Program.
“Maine is in the midst of an energy crisis and the key to meaningful energy relief is in our own backyard. By unlocking the affordable, homegrown renewable energy just waiting to be generated in Aroostook County, we can lower energy costs for working families, strengthen our energy independence and create good-paying jobs in rural Maine,” said President Jackson. “With today’s vote, we are the closest the state has ever been to making the northern Maine transmission line a reality and unleashing the untapped economic potential and power of Aroostook County.”
In October, the Maine PUC tentatively awarded transmission and distribution bids for the Northern Maine Renewable Energy Program — a program created by legislation put forward by President Jackson — to LS Power Base and Longroad Energy’s King Pine. Final approval for the projects hinged on financial commitment from an outside entity, to ensure costs remain as low as possible for Maine ratepayers.
President Jackson worked with partners in Massachusetts – Senate President Karen Spilka, Speaker of the House Ronald Mariano and the Chairs of the Massachusetts Legislatures’ Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy – to include language in a new Massachusetts law that would allow the Commonwealth to purchase power through the Northern Maine Renewable Energy Program.
In December, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) submitted a beneficial determination letter to the Maine Public Utilities Commission indicating the state’s intention of purchasing up to 40 percent of the energy created by the entire project.
Renewable energy projects in Aroostook County face significant economic challenges due to the lack of connection to the New England power grid. Energy generated in northern Maine, which includes Aroostook County and part of Piscataquis County, must go through the Canadian power grid in New Brunswick to be sold to consumers through any American power grid. The wheeling charges associated with this process are cost-prohibitive, making energy development in northern Maine unattractive despite the region’s ideal conditions for renewable energy generation. The progress on this project will help in alleviating these long-standing challenges.