New England, eastern Canada consider power collaboration

BAR HARBOR, MAINE - With fuel prices soaring, energy was the hot topic at a recent meeting of governors from energy-hungry New England states and leaders in eastern Canada, where there’s a surplus of energy.

The leaders of six states and four of the five provinces were told there’s plenty of electrical energy on line or on the drawing board, but getting it to market is another story.

New England and eastern Canada have significant renewable energy portfolios that can cut into greenhouse gas emissions, said Ed Martin, chief operating officer of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

“What we do not yet have is the transmission infrastructure to move it,” Martin told the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers at their recent 32nd gathering.

New England states, and Maine in particular, have been looking across the international border as they consider ways to collaborate on power generation and transmission. NB Power built a 58-mile line from Point Lepreau, N.B., to the Maine border in 2006.

The electricity can flow in both directions but there’s not enough capacity in Maine to ship large amounts of that Canadian electricity to southern New England.

A new proposal by Maine Public Service Co. and Central Maine Power calls for construction of a 345,000-volt line from central to northern Maine that would improve the flow of electricity by fully connecting northern Maine and New Brunswick to the New England power grid for the first time.

The proposed power grid improvements would accommodate 800 megawatts of power from proposed wind turbine projects in northern Maine, while opening the door to more electricity flowing into New England from Canadian hydroelectric and nuclear power projects.

The region’s top elected leaders also discussed other issues of mutual interest including transportation and population trends.

On transportation issues, regional leaders called for further studies into harmonizing truck weight limits among their jurisdictions and further evaluation of improved highway and railroad links.


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