Officials at Maine & Maritimes Corporation confirmed today that its subsidiary Maine Public Service Company and Central Maine Power have agreed to study the feasibility of a new power transmission line that would directly connect the Aroostook County power grid to the rest of the state of Maine, an announcement endorsed and released yesterday by Governor John Baldacci.

Brent M. Boyles, the company's president, said CMP and MPS signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday formalizing the agreement that sets up a four- to six-month study period to evaluate the proposed transmission line. Currently, the Aroostook grid is connected to the rest of Maine and New England only indirectly through transmission lines in Canada. The isolation of the northern Maine power grid is a barrier to competition. In December 2006, the Maine Public Utilities Commission's standard offer solicitation attracted only one bidder.

"The new transmission line has the potential to accomplish a number of important goals," Baldacci said. "It will connect Aroostook to the rest of the state, making it possible for a more competitive electricity market there and hopefully restraining prices. Both the Aroostook grid and the grid that serves the rest of the state would be strengthened."

In addition, the line also would reinforce a memorandum of understanding signed Feb. 9, 2007, between Maine and New Brunswick for greater cooperation on energy issues. Baldacci said, "We are serious about our commitment to work more closely with Canada and take advantage of the opportunities that exist for clean energy supplies and renewable resources."