Democratic Governor Janet Mills authorized the Office of Energy to sign onto an agreement that requests the state’s utility regulator to approve Central Maine Power Company’s 1,200-megawatt transmission project, which would deliver Canadian hydropower to Massachusetts to help that state achieve its clean energy goals. Mills said that the stipulation enhances the proposed New England Clean Energy Connect project, which is now poised to bring concrete long-term benefits to Maine.
Mills said the agreement is “markedly different from where the discussion started,” and is designed to suppress the price of electricity in Maine and in the region. The stipulation, filed with the Maine Public Utilities Commission on Feb. 21, would require a $50 million low-income customer benefits fund, a $140 million rate relief fund, a $15 million heat pump fund, and $10 million from Hydro-Quebec for electric vehicles. Among other conditions, the agreement would require Central Maine Power to transfer the project to a separate company called NECEC Transmission LLC, a subsidiary within the Avangrid Networks of companies, but would keep its accounting activities separate.
The $1 billion project emerged as the winner in Massachusetts’ clean energy solicitation program required under 2016 legislation that directed electric distribution companies to competitively bid proposals for an annual amount of about 9,450,000 megawatt-hours of electricity. Massachusetts’ decision came after the initial winner, Eversource Energy’s 1,090-megawatt Northern Pass power line, failed to obtain regulatory approvals from a New Hampshire siting agency.
Central Maine Power is a unit of Avangrid Networks Inc., which is owned by Iberdrola SA.