AUGUSTA — Today, the Maine Public Utilities Commission selected the winning transmission and distribution bids for the Northern Maine Renewable Energy Program, a program established by legislation put forward by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. Construction of the transmission and distribution projects may not begin until the awardees — LS Power Base and Longroad Energy’s King Pine — come back to the PUC with a term sheet indicating that the project will be partially funded by an outside entity and a plan to ensure costs remain as low as possible for ratepayers.
“Today, after more than sixty years talking about what it would mean to unlock the transmission and distribution of Aroostook County power for the region and the state, we are on the cusp of making what sometimes seemed like a pipe dream, a reality. I introduced this program because I was tired of hearing just talk about what these potentials could mean for the region. For too long, the people in northern Maine have not had the opportunity to benefit from renewable energy, the good-paying jobs that come with it and the regional economic impact,” said President Jackson. “That all could end with this transmission line, and the time for action is now. It’s time to unleash the power of home-grown energy in Aroostook County, from biomass to other renewable energy projects, and all the good-paying jobs that come with it.”
Following the passage of LD 1710 in 2021, President Jackson reached out to partners in other states, including legislative leaders in Massachusetts, recognizing the need for regional partnerships to secure the best deal for Maine ratepayers. He met with Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka and the Chairs of the Massachusetts Legislatures’ Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy — State Representative Jeffery Roy and State Senator Michael Barrett — to secure the inclusion of language into Massachusetts law allowing the state to purchase power through the Northern Maine Renewable Energy Program.
“The PUC’s selection of King Pine Wind is an important step forward to supply Mainers with affordable clean energy while making significant investments in Aroostook County and the state as a whole,” said Matt Kearns of Longroad Energy. “The concept started with Senator Jackson and would not have advanced without his leadership.”
President Jackson will continue to work with Massachusetts partners in the coming months to ensure Maine ratepayers get the best possible deal for low-cost, reliable, homegrown energy for years to come.
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.