Power grid expansion in N. Maine put on ice

Posted Feb. 05, 2009, at 12:53 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11:02 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — State regulators on Thursday dismissed a $625 million power grid expansion necessary to support a massive wind farm in northern Maine, putting the so-called Maine Power Connection project on ice for the time being.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission on Thursday granted a motion to dismiss the project after Aroostook Wind Energy discovered unanticipated technical hurdles. AWE also says the economics have changed since the power grid expansion was first proposed.

Central Maine Power and Maine Public Service Co. partnered on the proposed 345,000-volt line from central Maine to northern Aroostook County.

The project would’ve connected northern Maine to the regional grid for the first time, in addition to providing a conduit for the wind energy to reach southern New England.

Residents of northern Maine have not enjoyed the potential fruits of electric deregulation because Maine Public Service Co. is not connected to the rest of the New England power grid. Aroostook County is connected to the grid in neighboring New Brunswick.

By connecting to the New England grid, officials hoped to increase competition in the Maine Public Service area. At the same time, the improvements would accommodate power from proposed wind turbine projects in northern Maine.

AWE says it still intends to move forward with a wind power project of some kind. It had proposed wind towers capable of producing 800 megawatts of power, about the same amount of electricity produced by the Maine Yankee power plant when it was in operation.

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