Utilities Seek to End Isolation of Northern Maine's
Mar 1, 2007 NGI's Power Market
In an effort to create a more competitive
electricity market in Maine, officials at Maine
& Maritimes Corp. confirmed Thursday that its subsidiary
Maine Public Service Co. (MPS), and Central Maine
Power (CMP) 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.
Maine & Maritimes Corp. CEO Brent
M. Boyles said CMP and MPS signed a memorandum of
understanding Tuesday formalizing the agreement,
which 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 company noted that isolation of
the northern Maine power grid is a barrier to competition.
In December 2006, the Maine Public Utilities Commission's
(PUC) standard offer solicitation attracted only
As a subsidiary of Energy East Corp.,
CMP serves an estimated 596,000 customer accounts
in an 11,000-square-mile service area in central
and southern Maine. MPS is a regulated electric
and transmission utility serving Northern Maine
with approximately 36,000 customer accounts.
"The new transmission line has the
potential to accomplish a number of important goals,"
Maine Gov. John 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, Baldacci said the line
also would reinforce a memorandum of understanding
signed Feb. 9 between Maine and New Brunswick for
greater cooperation on energy issues (see Power
Market Today, Feb. 14). "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,"
Baldacci has said Maine consumers
are shouldering the burden of transmission and capacity
costs for other states in New England, which has
prompted him to join the state legislature in requesting
that the PUC study alternatives to benefit Maine.
In January, the PUC released the
results of an interim report that laid out possible
alternatives if the state decided to withdraw from
the New England Independent System Operator (ISO-NE).
It also offered scenarios about Maine's continuing
participation. PUC Chairman Kurt Adams said the
report found that Maine consumers could pay as much
as $616 million over the next five years for continued
participation in ISO-NE. Commissioners said they
were considering their options, which include forming
a statewide independent transmission company (ITC)
or partnering with neighboring Canadian provinces
in a regional transmission organization (RTO). A
final report will be sent to the state legislature
in January 2008 (see Power Market Today, Jan. 19).
Since 2002, Maine has been exploring
the possible formation of an RTO with Canada's Maritime
provinces (see Power Market Today, June 5, 2002).
The state is a net power exporter and closer ties
with other large net importing states in the region
and more efficient transmission integration has
led to a smaller amount of surplus power in Maine
and higher power costs.
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