NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine, July 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Maine's two largest utilities have agreed to jointly develop electric transmission projects to enhance the strength and capacity of the state's bulk power grid and improve access for new generation resources.
Emera Maine and Central Maine Power (CMP) recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for joint project development which identified a number of potential projects that could be developed together. The projects would improve links between southern New England and northern Maine, where more than 2,100 megawatts of wind power development have been proposed. The agreement between the utilities comes in response to a call by the six New England governors for investments in the region's energy infrastructure to diversify the energy portfolio and gain access to new renewable energy resources.
As the state's two largest utilities, Central Maine Power and Emera Maine serve more than 95% of Maine's homes and businesses. The utilities have significant expertise with transmission projects, including the MEPCO transmission line that extends from central Maine to New Brunswick, Canada.
The companies have outlined two initial phases of work. Phase One will analyze the feasibility of each project, including technical feasibility, public policy, regulatory considerations, and outreach to other potential parties to the project. Phase Two will include all development activities from design, engineering, siting, through construction bidding.
Central Maine Power is the state's largest utility serving 605,000 homes and businesses in the southern third of the state. The company is nearing completion of the Maine Power Reliability Program, a $1.4 billion investment in new transmission lines and substations to reinforce its 345,000 volt bulk power grid.
"Our Maine Power Reliability Program is the largest construction project ever in Maine, and one of New England's largest transmission projects," said Sara Burns, president and CEO of Central Maine Power. "It's a vast and complex undertaking, but four years into construction, the project is on time and on budget."
Emera Maine, which includes the former Bangor Hydro Electric and Maine Public Service, serves approximately 154,000 homes and businesses in eastern and northern Maine. Significant transmission projects completed by Emera Maine include the 43-mile, 115,000 volt Downeast Reliability Project, and the 85-mile, 345,000 volt Northeast Reliability Interconnect in 2007.
"Electric transmission can be a significant challenge to new low/no emitting generation sources seeking to enter our New England market", said Gerard Chasse, president and COO of Emera Maine. "That's a challenge that our companies have been working together on for some time, particularly in Northern Maine. With this MOU we are renewing and expanding these efforts to identify and develop creative and cost effective transmission solutions to benefit the State and the region."
Both companies have long records of service in Maine and direct ties to the international utility industry. Central Maine Power has operated in Maine since 1898. The company was acquired by Iberdrola in 2008, which is the world's fifth largest utility based on market value, and the world's largest wind energy company. In the U.S., Iberdrola USA is the nation's second largest wind energy company, and it operates electric and gas utilities serving nearly 3 million customers in New York and New England. Emera Maine is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nova Scotia based Emera Inc., a full service energy company operating throughout the Northeast U.S., Atlantic Canada, and the Caribbean.
Iberdrola USA is the U.S. subsidiary of global energy leader Iberdrola, S.A. The Iberdrola USA companies employ about 5,000 people with operations in 24 states from New England to the West Coast, providing electricity generation, transmission and distribution, natural gas storage and distribution, and energy services. For more information, please visit our website: www.iberdrolausa.com. Follow us on Twitter: @IberdrolaUSA
SOURCE Iberdrola USA