The Maine Public Service Co. and Central Maine Power Co. have reported on the preliminary conclusions of the Maine Power Connection (MPC) feasibility study. The MPC study evaluates the feasibility of connecting the Maine Public Service system to the rest of the Maine and New England electric grid and to support development of substantial wind energy resources in northern Maine.
The Maine Power Connection, a joint project of MPS and CMP, commenced with a feasibility study in March of 2007 in response to concerns over the lack of electric power competition in northern Maine. In 2006 the Maine Public Utilities Commission's standard offer solicitation attracted only one bid. Also, MPS has received connection requests to provide transmission service for more than 800 MW of proposed wind generation projects in Aroostook County. Presently, MPS does not have adequate transmission capacity to handle all of these requests.
Brent Boyles, president and CEO of Maine Public Service, said, "Based on the preliminary findings of our feasibility study, we are moving ahead with a more detailed analysis of a possible 345 kV transmission line from Limestone to the Detroit area, where it would connect to the CMP system and the New England grid. We are evaluating the use of existing transmission corridors between Houlton and Hayesville and possible new routes between the Detroit area and Chester, and between Houlton and Limestone. Also, we will continue to analyze the feasibility of a third 345 kV interconnect with eastern Canada."
Boyles added, "The Maine Power Connection provides competitive regional electricity costs for customers in northern Maine, enhances market access for renewable energy sources, allowing up to 800 MW of wind development; improves system reliability for northern Maine, Maine and New England; reduces carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants; enhances State and local tax bases; creates green jobs, stimulates new R&D initiatives and provides more than $1 billion in potential energy investment."
The MPC feasibility study is divided into three phases:
- Phase 1: Interconnect MPS territory to the New England electric grid
- Phase 2: Interconnect MPS, plus 800 MW proposed wind projects
- Phase 3: New northern Maine interconnect with eastern Canada
The study reached the following preliminary conclusions:
- 138 kV interconnection would be sufficient to connect existing MPS system with the New England grid at estimated cost of $40 million
- Not economically feasible if MPS ratepayers fund the project costs outweigh the potential economic benefits to MPS ratepayers
- MPS currently has transmission interconnection requests for more than 800 MW of potential wind generation projects
- New transmission capacity will support major wind development in Aroostook County
- Connecting MPS to the New England grid with a 345 kV transmission line will support wind generation projects and be economically feasible with the participation of ISO-NE and its member utilities
- A third Canadian interconnect merits further investigation
- May provide access to additional renewable energy resources
CMP and MPS expect to complete the Phase 2 feasibility study by the Summer of 2008.