Comments for: Maine Senate passes renewable power bill

Posted April 12, 2012, at 6:18 p.m.

AUGUSTA | In a straight party-line vote, the Maine Senate on Thursday approved a bill that lifts the 100-megawatt cap for qualifying renewable power generation such as hydropower. Supporters have said the bill would allow Maine to buy low-cost energy that meets the renewable energy standard, thereby reducing energy …

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  • EB

     Bartlett, I doubt it’s much different with Wind. First Wind from Massachusetts runs a large majority of our wind power supply. I’m from Vinalhaven and our co-op power is more expensive than before so I really don’t see why it matters if your statements hold true. At least hydro power is an effective and economical source of energy. I would like to know why we can’t produce these alternative energies on our own instead of relying on all these outsiders. I think Cianbro needs to start a “new” business! OR CMP needs to step up to the plate and become an energy producer again…

    • Anonymous

      The only business that Cianbro or any other outfit in Maine needs to start is a bus service to truck the enviromental industry trash out of this state so that we may get back to the business of developing our sustainable natural resources.

    • Anonymous

      Don’t believe anything that comes out of the mouth of Phil Bartlett II.  This guy is in the pocket of the Enviros & Wind Power crowd.  He will do anything to raise the cost of doing business here in Maine.  He helped lead the charge in the Legislature on the removal of our hydro dams, and wanting wind farms everywhere.  Now that we may see the return of hydro power in Maine along with the possibility of doing business with Hydro Quebec. Ending our costly association with
      ISO-New England which has been a pain to the taxpayer of Maine .  Who not only has seen their light bills rise while sending most of its extra power supply to help benefit other states.  Maine as a state would do best if they started the process with Hydro Quebec as soon as possible.  To help move in a direction getting cheaper power, cheaper  rates for Maine customers as soon as it can to help take down another barrier to job creation here in Maine electric rates. Mr. Bartlett II instead would rather see us continue down the path of higher energy costs and giving more handouts to the Wind Power crowd which he is affiliated with.

      • no more Grid scale WIND turbines.  they are a failure.   75% wind does not blow, 10-30% loss in transmission and 5% draw from the GRID to run mechanisms

        • Anonymous

          I don’t support Wind Turbines at all they have not done what the proponents have said.  They have increased people’s light bills while filling the pockets of Wind Power folks such as Former Gov. King.  I also don’t support them destroying land  which could be used for business development, and I don’t like that it lowers people’s property values.  Wind Power is a scam that only benefits its developers.

    • Anonymous

      I agree, EB.  Vinalhaven electrical rates are .13466 a KWH this month and that does NOT include the transmission charge!  This is about as high as island electric bills have EVER been and a far cry from the .6 a KWH that FIW promised islanders before the turbines were built.  Vinalhaven is a good example of the high cost of wind energy.

  • Anonymous

    Basically, any 100 MW or greater Generator in or out of Maine can qualify for Maine Renewable energy credits if they meet certain criteria.  Companies are dividing a certain amount of money for REC’s, according to the State’s portfolio requirements.  These REC’s are essentially paid for by ratepayers.  

    By Hydroquebec qualifying for REC’s, the value of individual REC’s will go down (although the extra cost paid my Maine consumers will stay the same) – think of slicing the same piece of pie into smaller slices).  The only difference is instead of the money staying in Maine and being invested in Maine, it will flow to Quebec.  In effect it is paying the same amount of tax that you have been paying, but paying it to Canada instead.  Green jobs that would have been added in Maine will now not be added.  Oh and by the way, your electric bill will not go down.  If anything it will increase.

    If you hate new taxes, you should really hate this bill….

    • Patten_Pete

      You are spreading total misinformation on purpose. Vermont cut a 20 year deal with Hydro Quebec at SIX CENTS PER KWH, as in ONLY six cents per kWh. As in offshore wind is about 24 cents per kWh based on what Rhode Island’s corrupt regime is looking at.

      • Anonymous

         They got a hell of a deal because so far this year electricity is trading on the Maine Hub in real time at about 3 cents per KW….as in HALF of what Vermont is buying power from Hydro Quebec at ONLY 6 cents per KWH…If you don’t believe me you can look at http://www.iso-ne.com/portal/jsp/lmpmap/Index.jsp – The price is in MW so you will have to divide by 1000.  Just because they say it on Fox News or WLOB, doesn’t make it true….as a matter of fact it most likely makes it false.

        • Anonymous

          The Vermont deal covers 26 years and was structured to even out a volatile market and provide even pricing….cherry picking a low price today, ignores the much higher price of tomorrow.

          Big wind is getting more and more expensive and the subsidies are being reduced and eliminated, mean wind generated power will cost more and more; while Vermont will enjoy 26 years of stable prices.

          The least expensive power in Maine comes from the three remaining municipal hydro generating plants—Kennebunk Light, Madison and Presque Isl. have a base rate of about 2 cents/KwH.

          • Anonymous

             Wind power has a high installed cost, but there is no operating expense.  Once they are installed the power is in effect free when the wind blows.  So for the units already in, they could sell for 1/2 cent a kW if they wanted to and generate revenue without OPEX.

            Wind is very attractive over a 20 year period, but no one is willing to wait long enough for the payback without subsidies.

            By the way, I am opposed to the subsidies, but don’t understand why everyone thinks wind is evil?

          • WIND =75% does not blow, 10-30% loss in transmission and 5% draw from the GRID

            WIND is a failure.      it will take  thousands of them to reach portfolio requirement.

          • Anonymous

             I understand what you are saying, but it still doesn’t explain to me why one installed the prices for the electricity isn’t cheap?

        • Anonymous

           Look at your electric bill and tell me you’re paying 3 cents a KWH for power.  Please stick to reality.

          • Anonymous

             Actually, I am paying 7.9 Cents per KW.  The wholesaler who is buying the power is paying 2.5 to 3 C/kWH on the portion that they did not hedge at around 4.5 C/KWH.  As the power stays low, the standard offer rate will drop the next time it is up.

            Now, that does not include Transmission and Distribution payments to CMP (or Bangor Hydro) depending on where you live.

            Just to clarify the above conversation – 6 c/KWH indexed to energy markets is a good deal for power.  There is still the markup for the LMP who will sell the power to the consumer, and the T&D charges are staying the same.

            You should understand the markets before you ask me to stick to reality.  I understand them.

            Here let me post your response for you:

            WHARGBBLLLLL….LIBERALS…..WHARGABLLL……ANGUS KING…..WHARGABLLLL…..WIND POWER……

    • Anonymous

      Hydro is green! And it will put more green in every Mainer’s pocket, unless you are one of the special interests that’s losing my money!

    • Anonymous

      Maybe our legislators can pass an emergency bill to disallow RECs for HQ. Problem solved.  Why not just stop the REC games which only serve to keep coal plants burning? The green jobs can still happen, just not with windsprawl or mountain bulldozing . More competition means lower prices.

      • Anonymous

        …and up pops the ‘coal burning power plant’  as a ‘red herring’ which will, of course, provide a ‘straw man’ argument.  My CMP bill reveals no coal fired power plants as sources of electricity…where do you live, Ohio?

    • oh and where do you think WIND money is going?  And whose idea was this REC thing?

      • Anonymous

        You are on the money Alice. NONE of the industrial wind projects in Maine are owned by Mainers and because so much of their financing is debt from foreign banks most of the wind projects’ revenues flow out of state to those banks to cover debt service. So any argument that says we have to keep Mainers’ money in Maine is baloney.

        All the talk about “preserving” Maine based Class I Renewables and their respective REC’s is also BS. The last PUC Report showed that 48% of approved Maine Class 1 power generators were physically located outside of Maine. This Law opens up Maine’s market to get the cheapest power available. The only legislators who oppose this law want to protect crony capitalism. 

        • Anonymous

          Precisely!

      • Anonymous

        Well, the portions are going to whoever owns the Wind generating assets, just like FPL or Verso or SAPPI are getting the money from their RECs.  The biggest difference is that at least these companies have some kind of asset in Maine, creating some kind of job, value, or revenue.

        RECs actually came as a “market” based solution to pollution.  An example would be that a coal plant in the Midwest can avoid having to upgrade it’s environmental controls by buying REC’s from another state.  

        In another example, a hydro power producer, like Hydro Quebec. sells it’s power to the ISO-NE grid for wholesale rate, say $40/MWH.  CMP is required to supply 30% of it’s power from “Green Energy”.  This gradually increases to 40% by 2017.  If there is enough green energy, the utility CMP has to buy Renewable Energy credits from the power producers to achieve the target “green power mark”.  So let’s say Hydro Quebec is qualified in Maine for REC’s.  The Maine PUC will tell CMP that they have to buy 100 RECs from Hydro Quebec for $22/REC – A producer gets 1 REC for each MW produced.  So Hydro Quebec would get $2,200/Hr or around $19 Million per year for RECs.  This money is passed onto the ratepayers in higher T&D charges.

        The actual Power would be sold via the wholesale market.  So a company like FPL could buy power from Hydro Quebec for 40/MW, and sell it to you at the standard offer rate of $79/MW.  They would make a $39/MW profit, but your total bill would either go up or stay the same, because someone gets the REC payment as long as the Green standard is not met.  You are currently paying for RECs, just not to Hydro Quebec.

        The market is confusing.  This bill failed in the House and has nothing to do with Electricity prices.  There is nothing to stop Hydro Quebec from selling power to Maine right now, other than the transmission costs make it unfeasible.  This bill just gives them a sweetener to do it while taking away jobs from Maine Biomass Plants, Paper Mills, and yes Wind Farms, without saving ratepayers one dime.  If Paul LePage wants to save the ratepayers money, he should try to  eliminate the Renewable Portfolio standard, or pull out of the RGGI (Reggie) – which in fairness to LePage, he tried to do.  The deal with HQ is not the right alternative.  He is picking winners and losers.

    • Anonymous

      Really well I hate seeing my electric bill rise. I also hate that subsidies are given to the pockets of Democrat Politicians with ties to Augusta like Fmr. Gov. Angus King, Dennis Bailey, Kurt Adams, Juliet Browne (Democrat Rep. Jon Hinck’s wife).  We have seen what distruction Liberals have caused by removing these hydro dams. Which has contributed to the skyrocketing of electric bills, loss of Maine jobs. Only to appease a few Far Left Wing Liberal politicians and Enviros who are only out to make a buck.

    • Anonymous

      ‘flow to  Quebec’…like the wind power in N. Maine ‘flowing’ to New Brunswick under the control of foreign companies? 

  • Anonymous

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2009/12/01/quebec-churchill.html

    Check out this link and see how you think Quebec would deal with Maine!  They can’t even be fair with their own provincial partners (let alone foreigners)!

    Power to the people…..

    • Anonymous

      Interesting. I guess the lesson is not to sign power deals too far into the future. Quebec now has excess power to get rid of maybe? I am suspicious of all energy dealers, but if Stacy Fitts is for something, it must be wrong. Don”t the 6 Dems on the committee know that?

      • Anonymous

        What you probably aren’t aware of, is that the export of inexpensive hydro power to the North East is the official policy of the Canadian government and several provinces; which is partially why they have developed so much of it. Also coming on line are several tidal power projects. 

        Maine could serve as a conduit for Canadian power transmission via. HVDC underground power lines, should N. H. successfully thwart a proposed route through a wilderness area. 

  • Hydro Quebec is not the only source of clean hydro power in
    eastern Canada.

    For example there is the Lower Churchill hydro project in
    Labrador by Nalcor Energy, that will be able to provide power to Nova Scotia and
    eastern United States.

    There is no rational reason to block hydro sources in excess
    of 100 MW from Maine other than to clear the field for expensive wind
    power.

    “Emera will construct and own a $1.2-billion underwater power connection
    from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia, to be known as the Maritime Transmission Link.

    This will enable future electricity exports to the Maritime provinces and
    the United States.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lower_Churchill_Project

    It is a sad day when a politician or party is so beholding to
    the flawed concept of wind power that they are willing to block access to lower
    cost energy for all of Maine.

    A political party or elected official that cynical can never
    be trusted to serve the people. They must be reminded in Nov that they are
    supposed to represent the best interests of their constituents, not the wind
    power developers. And is Sen Bartlet naive enough to think that profits and
    government subsidies to wind power developments stay in Maine?

    Its not that they are ignorant, it’s just that much of what
    they know isn’t true.

    • Patten_Pete

      Those who supported the Majority support tried to raise rates and we will remind voters of that in the fall.

      Here’s the roll call:
      http://www.mainelegislature.org/LawMakerWeb/rollcall.asp?ID=280044056&chamber=Senate&serialnumber=471

      • Anonymous

        Until we can get rid of the Justin Alfond’s , Phil Bartlett II , Cynthia Dill’s and other Wind Power Supporters in the Legislature.  We will have these folks trying to impose their views for this type of costly engergy source.  You won’t have any alternatives like Hydro, Nuclear, Natural Gas, Clean Coal, Biomass. Mainers will continue to suffer from paying higher electric bills, while also giving huge wind subsidies to the Angus King’s, Kurt Adams’ and Rep. Jon Hinck’s wife Lobbyist and Wind Power lawyer Juliet Browne.

        • Anonymous

          You keep thinking that.   Did you every think that the solution may be found in combinations of methods?  

          And renewable energy does not include: natural gas or clean coal nor in a degree biomass.
          The bill was specifically designed for hydro power,  and there is only one provider that can, with practicality, provide power, and thats Hydro Quebec.    I getting tired of corporate specific legislation,  legislation that can only benefit ONE company, and not all of us.

          • Anonymous

            and I thought you were a ‘pork barrel’ Democrat who showered companies like BIW with earmarks. 

          • Anonymous

            Then you must really be tired of the Baldacci wind bill.

            And why exclude biomass?  Don’t you believe that trees grow?

            Why would you be tired of lower electric rates from hydro?  It’s like giving every Maine household a check for $20/month.  Why would you be against hydro?

  • Anonymous

    Kudos to the Senators voting in favor of the LD 1863 minority report.  

  • Anonymous

    If Lepage is so concerned about the ratepayers, why did his appointee on the PUC vote for the First Wind/Emera deal, which even the PUC staff said was not in the best interests of the ratepayers. “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

    • Anonymous

      His appointee is a known member of ALEC–there’s favors to pay

    • Anonymous

      Yeah I was wondering about that one too,  out here on the sidelines it makes no sense. Governor LePage, are you listening?  Why are we putting all our energy production and transmission into the same pocket (and a Canadian pocket at that)– hasn’t anybody learned anything from the deregulation/monopoly disaster (ongoing nationally)?  Or even just learned anything from playing Monopoly?    —  On Mr. Farmer, and this applies to others too, “You cannot make a man understand something if his job depends on his not understanding it”.

  • Anonymous

    One small step for Maine-kind, on giant step for lower Maine-Rates.

    Bring on the low cost hydro, remove the high cost wind turbines!

  • Penny Gray

    Thank you, Maine Senate!  It’s nice when common sense prevails over special interest groups.  This bill will help lower electricity rates and help Maine ratepayers and businesses.

    • Anonymous

      Help reduce rates, maybe…….Quebec Hydro,   gets even richer.  If you think that it is THE solution, then I feel sorry.    There goes the money, right out of the country.

      Why not make some plans for perhaps building or improving our own hydro power systems?   Money stays in the state,   jobs created,  cheap power.

      • Penny Gray

        My solution would be small thorium reactors but most people faint at the thought.  Canadian hydro power is about to double with the second dam on the Churchill River being built, creating fierce competition between Hydro Quebec and Nalcor.  This should make things very interesting in the market place.  Much of Maine was built on hydro power, most of  her big cities are on rivers for that reason.  Hydro is evolving and can be made fish friendly; our existing dams could double their power with new technology being developed.  I’m all for it if it can be done right, but bringing industrial wind and their special lobby into the mix bodes ill for ratepayers and for Maine.  First Wind’s pending merger with three big Canadian companies has the power to devastate Maine’s tourism industry, her iconic and storied landscapes and her rural residents.  So, if I had to choose, I’d take the cap off of hydropwer and reclassify it as a renewable any day.

        • Penny Gray

          …but I’d really rather see small thorium reactors than the destruction of Muskrat Falls on the Churchill.  And what about biogas?  The one thing we humans create in humungous quantites is humanure.  If we can make gas out of cow manure, just think of the possiblities!

  • Anonymous

    Some common sense from our senate finally prevails for the Maine citizen’s pocketbook!
    Bring down the high cost wind turbines!

    Sorry self-serving high cost wind interests, you lose this one.
    Let’s see you compete with Hydro !

  • Anonymous

    Now let’s get Hydro power negotiations  going.

    Businesses needs lower rates, today!

  • Anonymous

    This is the official CBC report on the deal..not sure where Bartlett gets his biased views; but it isn’t by reading the numerous accounts of the deal similar to this one. I guess the last thing Barlett and other minority party members want is a public signing between the Premier of Quebec and the governor of Maine.

    “Quebec, Vermont sign hydro dealLast Updated: Thursday, August 12, 2010 | 3:28 PM ET CBC News

    Quebec premier, Jean Charest, talks about the hydropower deal in Burlington, Vt. on Thursday

    Vermont’s two largest utilities have officially signed a $1.5-billion agreement with Hydro-Québec to purchase 225 megawatts of electricity.

    Quebec Premier Jean Charest joined Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas in Burlington, Vt., to announce details of the 26-year contract, which will begin in 2012 and run until 2038.

    Vermont has purchased electricity from Quebec for years, and the current contract, signed in 1987, phases out in 2016.

    Under the latest agreement, Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power will purchase 225 megawatts of energy, primarily hydroelectricity.That represents a quarter of the energy consumed in the American state, enough to power 200,000 homes.

    The price of the hydroelectricity will start at around six cents per kilowatt hour, but will be tied to inflation and electricity market indexes.’

    At Thursday’s news conference, Charest said the deal showed that Quebec’s hydroelectric power is clean and renewable.

    “The government and state of Vermont is the first government in North America to recognize that hydroelectricity is clean and renewable energy, and can lead to tax credits,” said Charest.

    In June, Vermont became the first state in the U.S. to declare large-scale hydroelectric power as a renewable energy resource, clearing the way for the deal with Hydro-Québec.The renewable energy bill created tax credits to encourage the development of small-scale projects across Vermont.

    “Charest has been pushing for the U.S. government to legally recognize Quebec hydropower as renewable, which would allow it to be sold at a premium to utilities in states requiring power companies to get some of their power from renewable sources.”

    This is a snip from a VERMONT PUBLIC RADIO discussion on the deal:

    “VPR’s John Dillon looks at what’s next for Hydro-Quebec and its export plans.

    (Dillon) Vermont first bought power from Quebec a century ago. The trade relationship deepened in the 1980s when then-Governor Richard Snelling negotiated with Quebec Premier Rene Levesque to secure the first of several long-term power deals. This summer marked another milestone.

    (Charest) “And today we’re going to celebrate this friendship for the next 26 years.”

    (Dillon) Jean Charest is the premier in Quebec now.”

  • Anonymous

    Maybe Maine should stop taking dams out, and we might have more power!

    • MaineHiker

       We have plenty of power. We need fewer industrial turbines on our precious landscape.

      • Anonymous

        Tell that to the ones that want to remove (all) the dams. I agree on the turbines.

        • MaineHiker

          This is such a shame. We need to be
          decommissioning the industrial wind mistakes already installed rather
          than promoting their disgusting existence. I called and talked with
          Eric Bryant, Senior Counsel in the Public Advocates office. He said
          that he worked hard to deny the decision. The next steps he said
          might include calling for public hearing even though those were
          formally completed. I also called the PUC and got information about
          how to listen to deciding discussion and follow the issues and make a
          formal complaint. We Mainers must really pull together to remove all
          industrial wind-turbines from Maine. Pub Advocate
          http://www.maine.gov/meopa/ind…   MPUC
          http://www.maine.gov/mpuc/inde… 
           

          • MaineHiker

             The MPUC link is incomplete but easily Googed.

  • MaineHiker
  • Anonymous

    The LePage Energy policy, somewhat ironically, is following the lead of Vermont, which designated large hydro as a renewable: 

    “I. VERMONT’S LEGISLATIVE RECOGNITION OF LARGE HYDROPOWER AS A 
    RENEWABLE RESOURCE

    A. Vermont Act 159 of 2010 

    On June 4, 2010, Vermont became the first state in the nation to treat 
    electricity generated by large hydro facilities as a renewable resource when 
    Governor Jim Douglas signed H. 781 into law as Act 159.
    1
      It was an historic step.  As he was leaving office in January 2011, Governor Douglas said about 
    the law, “[t]his new power agreement is a tremendous step forward and it was 
    enhanced when the Legislature agreed  to define large-scale hydropower as 
    renewable, making Vermont the first state in the nation to do so.”
    2  
    Vermont law defines “renewable energy” as “energy produced using a 
    technology that relies on a resource that is being consumed at a harvest rate at or 
    below its natural regeneration rate.”
    3
      While Vermont law currently limits designating hydropower as renewable energy to hydropower produced by a “hydroelectric facility with a generating capacity of 200 megawatts or less,”
    4
     Act 159 removes this capacity limitation effective July 1, 2012. As a result, electricity produced by a hydroelectric facility of any size will qualify under Vermont law as renewable energy.
    (ENERGY LAW JOURNAL, [Vol. 32:553)

  • Anonymous

    “the governor’s office lobbied republicans hard”…..he has to strenuously lobby his own party to secure a vote?  I guess he didn’t lobby hard enough on his supplemental budget. 

    I’d much rather see a balanced approach for renewable energy,  then the corporate subsidy operation going on with the natural gas and the TIFF susbsidy’s KVGAS is getting.  How renewable is natural gas?

    • Anonymous

      Pretty renewable…Vermont has about two dz. power plants run on methane from dairy farm anaerobic digesters. Methane can be refined to replace CNG in pipelines and digesters can be modified to use organic solid and liquid waste. Some countries like Ireland have adopted a ZERO WASTE policy and are fueling public fleets with CNG created out of municipal waste. In Sweden commuter trains are refueled along with trucks and cars in  an integrated refueling terminal.

    • Anonymous

       Yeah, let’s reject a clean, cheap source of power like natural gas because it’s not unicorn farts and fairy dust.  The real agenda is to drive as many people as possible out of Maine so the enviro can buy it cheap and give off the best parcels to well connected insiders.

  • Anonymous

    The Vermont  Public Service Board concluded the Hydro-Quebec agreement offered a price that would be competitive or favorable over the term of the contract and assured greater price stability than purchases on the market.

    In doing so, it rejected the  addition assurances sought by Sandy Levine of the Conservation Law Foundation who said she wanted more guarantees that Hydro-Quebec’s power was renewable and that it wasn’t going to sell the renewable attribute and still claim that attribute at home — double-counting the environmental value. 

    Maine is seeing some of the blow back by this rare rejection of legal requests of the all too powerful Conservation Law Foundation. 

    It must not be forgotten that Vermont has long been recognized for their progressive environmental policies; and many see this deal as a logical continuation of this leadership.

  • Anonymous

    “I believe it is morally and ethically wrong to take more money from those who can least afford it to line the pockets of those that are politically connected here in Augusta.”

    So I guess that means he’s in favor of taxing the richest people in the state at a higher rate than the lower-middle-income folks, right?

  • from the fed get on down the energy $ has been handed out without having to prove its worth..time to change this..and talking about hydro folks getting richer..why spend OUR tax dollars on ridiculously expensive industrial wind farms that are ruining a Maine legacy? it is time regulations are imposed and consumers protected.

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