Mainebiz news story
Hydro-Quebec and Central Maine Power Co. announced Thursday they had signed an agreement with Massachusetts electric distribution companies to bring hydropower from Quebec to the Bay State via a 145-mile transmission line through Maine.
The conclusion of contract negotiations with the electric distribution companies represents another major milestone for CMP’s $950 million New England Clean Energy Connect 100% hydropower project, which was selected by Massachusetts in March as the winning bidder of its Clean Energy RFP. CMP’s selection came after the original winning bidder, Eversource Energy’s $1.6 billion Northern Pass Hydro transmission project in New Hampshire, failed to gain approval from the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee and was unable to meet an initial March 27 deadline set by the Bay State companies.
The Massachusetts electric distribution companies will next file the agreements with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities for the 20-year power contract.
“We have made important progress with regard to this groundbreaking 20-year agreement, moving us closer towards decarbonization in the Northeast,” said Éric Martel, president and CEO of Hydro-Québec, said in a joint news release with CMP. “In the coming months we’ll be working closely with Central Maine Power to complete this important new interconnection project, which will not only reduce carbon emissions, but will also bring price stability and supply reliability to the region.”
Douglas Herling, president and CEO of CMP, characterized the signed agreement as “a significant step forward” for the New England Clean Energy Connect project.
Herling said the project will deliver “lasting economic benefits” to Maine, “including new job creation and targeted investments such as expanded broadband access in western Maine.”
The 145-mile transmission corridor extends from the Quebec-Maine border through western Maine to Lewiston, where it will connect with the existing electric grid.
NRCM states concerns
The Natural Resources Council of Maine, which along with the Appalachian Mountain Club has stated concerns about the project, reiterated its objections Thursday in a news release.
“Today, Massachusetts utilities announced agreement on a contract with Central Maine Power for its proposed transmission project with Hydro-Quebec. The contract is subject to review and approval by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and the project still requires approval by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Public Utilities Commission, and Land Use Planning Commission. The contract terms will not be revealed to the public and will still be subject to additional negotiation,” NRCM stated.
“The Natural Resources Council of Maine and many other organizations are deeply concerned that the proposed New England Clean Energy Connect will not result in a reduction in carbon emissions and may even contribute to an increase,” it said. “Since the proposal was made, evidence has continued to accumulate indicating that the project could shift existing generation of power from one market to another, requiring new generation outside of Quebec to offset sales to Massachusetts along the NECEC. That generation would have additional costs and could have additional greenhouse gas emissions depending on the energy generation choices made to offset the shift.”
NRCM said it has sought information and evidence from CMP or Hydro-Quebec to allay this concern but, to date, has received none.