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Bad News in New England

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Henry Craver's picture
Small Business Owner Self-employed

As a small business owner, I'm always trying to find ways to cut costs and boost the dependability of my services. To that end, I've become increasingly invested in learning about energy saving...

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  • Nov 29, 2021
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Christmas is not coming early this year. Just the opposite, really. On Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection suspended Avangrid’s permit to build their New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) power line that would transport hydropower from Quebec to the Massachusetts grid. 

Construction on the power line was halted by a group of 50 Maine leglistors, representing the 59% of Maine voters who voted no on a ballot initiative earlier this month. The five involved utilities spent a combined $96.3 million to sway those voters. According to the letter from the Maine lawmakers to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, they’re open to other, better positioned power lines. 

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The NECEC would have a big impact on Massachusetts’ energy portfolio. The transmission project promises to transport 9.45 million MWh of electricity from Hydro-Quebec to Massachusetts every year. That would account for around 8% of the electricity used in all of New England, powering close to 1.2 million homes. 

The plan’s failure would be very bad news for Avangrid and Hydro-Quebec. Avangrid has already sunk $350 million into the project. If it does fall apart, the Conneticut-based utility would most likely have to write off many of its expenditures. Hydro-Quebec, for their part, would be losing out on an estimated $490 million in annual revenue. 

Over the past year, politicians and the mainstream media have finally started to realize the urgent need for more transmission, especially as it relates to the energy transition. However, decisions like this one in Maine don’t seem to be going anywhere. Left to the public, NIMBYISM seems to always win out. That’s what makes FERC’s comments on transmission planning reform so worrying:"One of the goals is to try to get affected communities, whether it be environmental justice communities, but others as well, to participate in our proceedings,” said the chairman.

Direct democracy is great for a lot of things, transmission lines not being one of them. The proof is in the pudding: “Since 2009, China has built more than 18,000 miles of ultrahigh-voltage transmission lines. The U.S. has built zero.” To boost reliability and expand our renewable portfolio, the USA needs to greatly accelerate its transmission development. Right now, things are not looking good.

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 29, 2021

Bad news!? It's great news in New England, Henry - at least for Mainers who don't want to leave a 57-mile scar through pristine New England forest for their ancestors to heal. I know renewables folks would love all of that old-growth wood to burn in "biomass" incinerators, too, but unfortunately there are some who don't believe we can save nature by destroying it.

Maybe that wood will be made into pellets and shipped off to Germany, where greenwashing local environmental atrocities is big business. Has anyone calculated how many tons of sequestered carbon irreplaceably razing, then burning, 57 miles of hardwood forest will dump into the atmosphere? Of course not.

For Hydro-Quebec, Avangrid, and arrogant Massachusetts "green" snobs, my heart weeps - with joy.

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Dec 2, 2021

Hard to have much sympathy for Massachusetts. They shut down a lot of their own power generation (including nuclear) and want everybody else to carry the burden of providing power to Massachusetts. 

Well, I suppose there is always exorbitantly priced offshore wind, when it happens to be available.

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Dec 6, 2021

Yes, it is a shame Henry. And I doubt that anything is going to change the minds of the electorate very soon. I think the problem is that Mainers see nothing in it for them, only for Massachusetts.  For the project to have any chance in the future, rural Mainers need to see Québec hydro as a source of inexpensive, renewable power for Mainers. 


The good news is that Vineyard Wind will be up and running without further delay.

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