Green Power Will Be Trapped If Maine Doesn't Unlock
A Lack of Transmission Capacity Will Interfere With
the Development of Renewable Energy
The demand for renewable-source energy is soaring, driven
by regional carbon reduction targets and high oil and gas
Maine, with its abundant forests, mammoth tides and windy
coasts and ridges, is perfectly positioned to be a supplier
of green power- except for one thing - the means of getting
it to market from the places where it is generated.
As the experience of a developer in Millinocket indicates,
Maine has a shortage of transmission lines, which will get
in the way of the expansion of renewable energy projects
Jerry Tudan of Harpswell said he had financing lined up
to build a 17-megawatt biomass boiler in Millinocket, but
the project stalled when he found that there would be no
capacity on regional transmission lines to move the power
Capacity had already been promised to First Wind, which
is developing a wind farm at Stetson Mountain.
As a result, the Millinocket project, and the 45 jobs it
would have created in an economically distressed community,
Three of Maine's largest utilities, Bangor Hydro-Electric
Co., Central Maine Power and Maine Public Service, have
plans to build new transmission lines in the next few years.
It will be up to the Public Utilities Commission to determine
which of these projects best meet Maine's needs, but it's
clear that the state will not be able to move forward as
a renewable-energy producer without more transmission capacity.
Just like wind power plants, siting transmission projects
will likely have environmental impacts, disturbing views
and animal habitat.
Those impacts will have to be carefully weighed against
the benefits of producing power from renewable sources.
If Maine is going to generate green power, it will have
to find a way to transmit it to its customers.
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