UPDATE: On January 31, 2023, the Maine PUC approved the Northern Maine transmission and wind projects. A recent study estimated that new wind projects of this scale will save Maine electricity customers $35 million per year.
NRCM’s Climate & Clean Energy Director Jack Shapiro issued the following statement (you can read our original release when these projects were conditionally approved below):
“These are exactly the types of Maine-based clean energy projects we’ll need to stabilize energy prices by reducing the region’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Infusing our electric grid with wind energy sourced from Aroostook County is an economic boost to local communities, a win for New England electricity consumers, and a promising example of regional collaboration on our energy future.
We look forward to ensuring the developers abide by the highest community engagement and environmental standards as the planning and construction moves ahead.”
NRCM news release
Today, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) selected proposals to develop 1,000 MW of wind power in Aroostook County, as well as a new transmission line that would carry clean energy from northern Maine to the New England electric grid. The project developers now have the opportunity to work with partners including other New England states like Massachusetts, to share the costs as well as the benefits of the projects.
In response to today’s vote, NRCM Climate & Clean Energy Director Jack Shapiro had the following to say:
“Today’s decision by the PUC is a step toward bringing more low-cost, Maine-made clean energy to the grid, helping the region get away from our terrible reliance on fossil fuels, especially natural gas. If these projects are responsibly sited and built with community support, they can bring new jobs and economic benefits to Aroostook County while helping Maine reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with what scientists say is necessary.
We hope this can serve as an example of how our region can collaborate and move forward with well-planned transmission and clean energy investments that will deliver indisputable climate benefits. Instead of sending billions out of state and out of the region every year to fossil fuel companies, we can keep those dollars right here in Maine by investing in local clean energy projects.”
Wind power is a great complement to solar, peaking at night and in the winter, when solar peaks during the day and in the summer. Investing in a diverse array of wind and solar projects increases the grid’s resiliency and reduces costs overall.
There is a growing understanding of the importance of regional collaboration on transmission infrastructure. Recently, five New England states initiated a joint process to explore collaborating on transmission investments to facilitate the development of offshore wind.
Planning for the northern Maine transmission line was approved by a majority of the Maine Legislature and is broadly supported in Aroostook County. Moving forward, NRCM and others will work to make sure the developers work together with local communities to responsibly site and construct the new line and are optimistic that can be achieved.