Saturday, March 03, 2007

Aroostook power may be linked to downstate grid

Maine Today
AP Newswire

Friday, March 2, 2007

AUGUSTA - Two of Maine's electric companies are looking into building a power transmission line to connect the Aroostook County power grid to the rest of the state, Gov. John Baldacci said.
Maine Public Service and Central Maine Power companies signed a memorandum formalizing a feasibility study Tuesday.

The Aroostook grid is connected to the rest of Maine and New England only indirectly, through transmission lines in Canada. Power from the new Mars Hill wind farm in Aroostook goes to the New Brunswick grid.

Baldacci said connecting Aroostook to the rest of the state would create a more competitive electricity market in that county and could restrain prices.

The northern Maine power grid's isolation has been a barrier to competition, Baldacci said. That was demonstrated in December 2006, when the Maine Public Utilities Commission's standard-offer solicitation attracted only one bidder, he said.

The proposed line also would reinforce a memorandum of understanding signed Feb. 9 between Maine and New Brunswick for greater cooperation on energy issues, the governor said.

"The new transmission line has the potential to accomplish a number of important goals," Baldacci said.

"We are serious about our commitment to work more closely with Canada and take advantage of the opportunities that exist for clean energy supplies and renewable resources," he added.

The memorandum formalizing the feasibility study sets up a four- to six-month study period to evaluate the proposed transmission line.

Maine Public Service Co. is the electric transmission and distribution utility serving 35,000 customers in northern Maine.

Central Maine Power Co., a subsidiary Energy East Corp., delivers electricity to 600,000 customers in central and southern Maine.

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