The Maine Department for Environmental Protection (MDEP) has granted permitting approval that will enable an Iberdrola U.S. subsidiary to build and operate a new high voltage power line to import energy from Canada to New England.
In detail, this project led by Avangrid will entail an investment of €770 million and strengthens Iberdrola’s position in the U.S.
The permit confirms that the project has met or exceeded all environmental standards in place; and that no other alternative route would be an improvement the project’s current design.
“The decision by the MDEP to permit the New England Clean Energy Connect represents another significant step for this project and is the culmination of a rigorous process that began more than two years ago,” said Thorn Dickinson, CEO & President of NECEC Transmission LLC. “We look forward to working with the Commissioner and his staff to meet the conditions outlined.”
— New England Clean Energy Connect (@NECEC_ME) May 13, 2020
New England Clean Energy Connect
The electricity distributed through this network will come from clean energy sources like wind and hydro. This 230-kilometer corridor will be built by Central Maine Power and Avangrid. It will have the capacity to deliver 1,200 megawatts.
The Project, called New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), is expected to create 1,600 jobs during construction. Up to 46 companies competed for this 20-year power distribution contract.
The goal is guaranteeing that power distributors in the region will have greater access to renewable energy to meet environmental targets.
Operational by late-2022
The construction works will begin as soon as the final permits are granted, which could be 2Q 2020. This project is expected to be ready and operational by December 2022.
Meanwhile, the Canadian part of the corridor will be in charge of partner Hydro-Québec, one of the country’s main power generators and distributors. Having been green-lighted by Massachusetts regulators, the developers only need the federal authorization papers; which they expect to receive in the coming months.
The plan is that the new corridor uses part of an existing transmission corridor to reduce costs and opposition from residents in the area.
The final approval for the project includes several additional conditions that must be met. These conditions include reducing the width of the corridor in one of the segments from 150 feet to 54 feet. It also requires a conservation plan designed to compensate the fragmenting impact of the corridor. This will enable to prioritize the preservation of acres of land and promote the conservation of mature forest ecosystems.
“The decision by the MDEP to permit the New England Clean Energy Connect represents another significant step for this project and is the culmination of a rigorous process that began more than two years ago” https://t.co/4uT8sdnZbD #Maine #mepolitics
— New England Clean Energy Connect (@NECEC_ME) May 11, 2020
The project will provide $200 million in upgrades to Maine’s energy grid, making Maine’s electricity service more reliable.
Furthermore, the NECEC will allow more renewable energy producers in Maine to get their energy on the grid. Also, because the corridor project will use clean hydropower, it will reduce the use of fossil fuels; cutting three million metric tons of dirty emissions each year.
This is the second large electricity import project between Canada and the United States led by Iberdrola, through its subsidiary Avangrid. The company concluded the construction of the 800-kilometer Maine Power Reliability Program (MPRP) in 2015. This other corridor has been operative for three years, entailed an investment of €1.2 billion, and helped strengthen power imports between the two nations.
Opposition to this project
However, those who opposed this project have collected enough signatures to submit the matter to a state referendum in November.
The company has alleged that said referendum, aimed at revoking the decisions of three government agencies that already approved the project, is unconstitutional.
This opposition to the NECEC assures that the environmental benefits have been exaggerated and that the project would actually ruin part of North Woods in Maine. Finally, they also sustain that the power supply could hinder other smaller renewable power projects in the state.
For more information, check Energía16