New England clean energy push lauded, but more transmission capacity needed

New England clean energy could help reduce costs, provide reliable sources of power

New England clean energy
Currently, there are four New England clean energy transmission projects under discussion.  Hydro Quebec Twitter photo.

MONTPELIER, Vt. _Companies designing projects to bring clean electricity to southern New England say they’re grateful Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island have finally made a request for proposals to carry that power to the region.

But meeting the region’s longer-term goal of expanding the use of renewable electricity from wind, solar and hydro-electricity will require more transmission capacity than the states requested, said Edward Krapels, the CEO of Anbaric Transmission, which is proposing one project in Maine and another Vermont.

“Having several states work together is just very constructive and allows larger scale renewable projects to get built, and we like that,” Krapels said Tuesday.

The southern New England states are looking for clean renewable energy as part of a broader effort to reduce electricity costs and provide reliable sources of power as other aging power plants go offline. The region’s governors committed to working together in 2013.

“The aggressive carbon reduction targets that all of the states have really committed to does require a super-regional perspective,” said Marc Montalvo, the president of Daymark Energy Advisers of Boston. “The ability to take advantage of the most economic sources of low-carbon power is a smart and sensible thing to do.”

The idea is intended to “get better deals for ratepayers when we go shopping together,” said Katie Dykes, deputy commissioner for energy at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“We expect developers to be sharpening their pencils and giving us their proposals,” said Dykes.

Contracts for renewable energy will be selected by the middle of next year, with regulatory approvals also expected in 2016.

Projects for transmission and power generation will be brought online incrementally with a commercial operating date of no later than Dec. 31, 2020, for bids Connecticut is seeking.

Four large-scale transmission projects are being discussed publicly in the region: Anbaric’s projects in Maine and Vermont, the Northern Pass project that would bring Canadian power into the region through New Hampshire, and TDI New England, which would carry Canadian power down Lake Champlain and then across Vermont to where it would feed the regional power grid.

But more could be coming.

“I would anticipate there will be lots of projects in Maine as a result of this solicitation,” said Patrick Woodcock, director of Maine’s state energy office.

Bill Quinlan, president of Eversource New Hampshire Operations, which is working with Hydro-Quebec to bring Canadian power to southern New England, said the Northern Pass project is ideally suited to meet the needs of the southern New England states.

“We’ve been working on this for several years,” Quinlan said. “The timing of this solicitation is ideal.”

Andrew Rush, a spokesman for TDI, said his company is eager to carry clean power to southern New England from Canada. Meanwhile, his company has issued a request of its own, a solicitation for power producers that would use the line to get electricity to potential southern New England customers.

“We would think this RFP would certainly be of interest to a lot of those potential users of the line,” Rush said.

The Canadian Press