A Wakefield, Mass., transmission line developer and the corporate parent of two Maine utilities have become the first companies to publicly acknowledge a desire to compete for anticipated multimillion-dollar transmission line projects through Maine.
Anbaric Transmission LLC said Monday it will submit plans to build its so-called Green Line project from the Canadian border overland to an undisclosed point on the Maine coast, where it would connect with Greater Boston by undersea cable. The high-voltage, direct-current line also would link major wind farms in Aroostook County that are under construction or being proposed.
One of the partners in the venture would be Cianbro Corp. of Pittsfield, the state’s largest heavy construction company.
“It’s really a project that has been waiting for an indication of interest from the states,” Ed Krapels, Anbaric’s chief executive officer, told the Portland Press Herald.
Anbaric also is expected to announce a similar project in Vermont called the Grand Isle Intertie. It would connect Plattsburg, N.Y., with Burlington, Vt., to relieve bottlenecks in moving power from northern New York into New England.
Also jockeying for position is the Northeast Energy Link, a $2 billion project that aims to carry vast amounts of renewable power from northern and eastern Maine and Atlantic Canada to Massachusetts through underground cables along interstate highways.
The partners in Northeast Energy Link are Emera Inc., the Nova Scotia-based parent of the two largest utilities in eastern and northern Maine, and the American arm of British energy giant National Grid, which owns power companies in New York and New England.
The projects are queuing up in response to an anticipated request-for-proposals from the six New England governors, who announced in December a regional effort to boost natural gas and renewable power resources. The governors want additional pipeline capacity in order to lower the record-high cost of gas-fired electricity in the winter.
They also called for new transmission lines that could deliver between 1,200 megawatts and 3,600 megawatts of clean energy into the region. For practical purposes, that could mean as many as three separate lines hooked up to hydro and wind power plants capable of electrifying hundreds of thousands of homes.
In Maine, building a line that transmits both hydroelectricity from Canada and wind power from northern Maine would be complementary, Krapels said. It would satisfy policy and legal demands in southern New England for renewable power, as well as using Canadian hydro when the wind’s not blowing.
“That to us is a perfect package,” Krapels said. “It fills the line all the time, and that’s a really efficient way to build a transmission line.”
Anbaric and Cianbro have experience building large transmission lines. In 2007, they teamed up with Connecticut-based PowerBridge LLC to develop the Neptune project, a high-voltage, undersea cable that links the power grid in New Jersey with New York’s Long Island. That project cost $650 million and took four years to complete.
Krapels said he couldn’t speculate on how much the Green Line would cost and exactly where it would be built until he saw the proposal request.
The request-for-proposals is expected to be issued by the New England States Committee on Electricity, a nonprofit organization that represents the governors on regional electricity issues. Maine’s representative on the committee, Public Utilities Commission Chairman Thomas Welch, said on Monday that it was too early to know what shape the RFP would take, and when it would be issued.
Gerry Chasse, president and chief operating officer of Emera Maine, said that the governors’ plan and new federal energy regulations for renewable power will create opportunities for several projects. The include some that connect with Hydro Quebec and others focused on northern New England wind and imports from the Canadian Maritimes.
Northeast Energy Link would be built for the latter and is working with Maine officials on routing through Maine.
Chasse also noted that Emera is in the design and construction phase of the Maritime Link project, which will connect Nova Scotia to vast hydro resources in Labrador.
“Should the (RFP) proceed, we expect there will be a number of projects that will respond,” he said. “The states will then have the opportunity to decide which of one or more projects will be best suited to meet their individual (environmental or renewable energy) objectives.”
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