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Green Power Will Be Trapped If Maine Doesn't Unlock Grid

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 prices.

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 here.

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 generated.

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, are gone.

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.

(c) 2008 Portland Press Herald. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

Technical Articles - index of technical articles related to GENI's vision. Includes: articles written by GENI and about GENI concerning the proof of concept and some industry reports relating to the GENI vision