A hearing examiner with the Maine Public Utilities Commission, in an Oct. 3 notice, said that an initial case conference regarding Central Maine Power’s (CMP) request for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) for a transmission project will be held on Oct. 19 in Hallowell, Maine, to consider petitions to intervene and any objections to such petitions; to discuss next steps and a procedural schedule; as well as to consider other issues in the case.
The hearing examiner said that interested persons wishing to intervene in the matter should file petitions to intervene by Oct. 13, and that objections to petitions to intervene must be in writing and filed by noon on Oct. 18.
As the hearing examiner noted, CMP in September filed its request regarding the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), which consists of the construction of a 1,200-MW HVDC transmission line from the Québec-Maine border to Lewiston, Maine, and related network upgrades.
The hearing examiner said that according to the petition, the NECEC is part of two joint bids submitted by CMP, Hydro Renewable Energy, Inc., (HRE), and SBx in response to the Massachusetts request for proposals (RFP) for long-term contracts for clean energy projects dated March 31.
As noted in CMP’s September petition, SBx is a joint venture of Gaz Metro Limited partnership and Boralex Inc., (Gaz Metro and Boralex are collectively referred to as the NECEC Wind Developer).
The first of the two joint bids is for a certain amount of megawatt hours (MWh) (redacted in the petition) of energy and environmental attributes, including renewable energy credits (RECs), from a certain amount of megawatts of incremental hydroelectric generation owned and operated by H.Q. Production, Inc., (HQP), paired with a certain amount of megawatts of new Massachusetts Class I Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) eligible wind generation to be developed by the NECEC Wind Developer near the existing Seigneurie de Beaupre Wind Farms in Québec, firmed by incremental hydroelectric generation owned and operated by HQP.
The second bid is for a certain amount of megawatt hours of energy and environmental attributes sourced exclusively from a certain amount of megawatts of incremental hydroelectric generation owned and operated by HQP.
CMP added that its NECEC Transmission Project, as proposed, supports the delivery of the energy offered in each of those joint bids. Under the terms of the joint bids, the RFP Selection Team may select either of the joint bids, but may not select both of them.
According to CMP’s petition, the NECEC transmission facilities consist of:
- About 145.3 miles in Maine of +/- 320-kV overhead HVDC transmission line
- New HVDC converter stations at both ends of the line
- Certain upgrades to the existing high voltage alternating current (HVAC) New England transmission system necessary to permit the interconnection of the NECEC Transmission Project and clean energy generation to the New England Control Area at the existing Larrabee Road substation
CMP noted that the transmission upgrades included in the NECEC would improve the reliability of Maine’s transmission system by:
- Increasing the transfer limits at the Surowiec South interface from 1,600 MW to 2,600 MW
- Providing a redundant 345-kV line between the Coopers Mills Road substation and the Maine Yankee substation
- Providing increased transmission capacity on the 115-kV transmission system out of the Larrabee Road substation
- Improving reliability in the Portland region through the addition of an autotransformer at the Raven Farm substation
The NECEC is expected to cross the Québec-Maine border in Beattie Township, which is in the northwest corner of Maine, CMP said, adding that the Québec portion of the NECEC facilities would be built by Hydro Québec TransEnergie, Inc., (HQT), an affiliate of Hydro Québec and HRE.
The NECEC would be built adjacent to existing transmission lines in existing transmission corridors owned by CMP or on commercial forest land already owned or controlled by CMP, the company said.
The hearing examiner said in the Oct. 3 notice that CMP, in its CPCN petition, asserts that the NECEC and the clean energy generation delivered by it would:
- Provide annual electricity locational marginal price savings for Maine electricity customers of $40m to $45m, and annual capacity market savings for Maine electricity customers of about $50m for the first eight years of the 40-year project
- Reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions annually by at least 3 million metric tons
- Provide significant protection against future increases in natural gas prices, including especially during winter periods when natural gas supplies may become constrained
In its petition, CMP said that the proposed commercial operation date for the NECEC Transmission Project is in 2022.
CMP noted that it would not seek any cost recovery from Maine customers for the NECEC. If one of the joint bids for the NECEC Transmission Project and NECEC Clean Energy Generation is selected as the winning proposal under the RFP, then the NECEC would be paid for entirely by HRE and the ratepayers of the Massachusetts electric distribution companies (EDCs), in accordance with FERC-approved transmission service agreements (TSAs), consistent with applicable Massachusetts law and applicable FERC policy, regulation, and tariff, CMP said.
Discussing the RFP, CMP noted, that the Massachusetts EDCs – in coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) – in late March issued the RFP seeking proposals for clean energy generation and/or RECs and associated transmission to enter into contracts of 15 years to 20 years duration with the Massachusetts EDCs to meet the statutorily required annual procurement of about 9.5 million MWh.
According to the timeline issued in the RFP, the winning bids for the RFP are to be selected by Jan. 25, 2018, for further negotiation. Once the winning bids are selected, the EDCs, Massachusetts DOER, and the winning bidders are to negotiate and execute the appropriate long-term PPAs and TSAs, with March 27, 2018, being the stated target date for execution. CMP also said that the contemplated deadline for submission of the executed long-term contracts to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities is April 25, 2018.
Among other things, CMP said that in addition to the NECEC, it proposed a second project in response to the RFP, the Maine Clean Power Connection (MCPC), which is an HVAC transmission solution capable of delivering clean energy generation to the New England Control Area from wind and solar renewable generation and energy storage resources, proposed to be built in western Maine and Québec Province, Canada.
CMP said that it is not requesting CPCN approval for the MCPC in its petition, but that in the event that the Massachusetts EDCs select the MCPC under the RFP, then CMP would update its filing to request CPCN approval of the transmission components of the MCPC.
The company said that that would not be materially different from the commission’s consideration of the NECEC Transmission Project, as the MCPC runs along essentially the same transmission corridor and includes many of the same transmission facilities as the NECEC.