Maine regulators initiate CPCN review of CMP’s proposed Line 80 rebuild project

The commission said that interventions in the proceeding are due April 24; data requests are due May 8; data responses are due May 15; and a case conference/technical conference — to be held telephonically — is scheduled for June 24

The Maine Public Utilities Commission, in an April 14 notice, marked the initiation of its certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) review of Central Maine Power’s (CMP) request for approval to rebuild Line 80 in the Midcoast area (Docket No. 2011-00138).

CMP has filed with the commission an initial filing for the rebuild of Line 80, which is a 21.7-mile, 115-kV line that runs from Coopers Mills substation in Windsor to the Highland substation in Warren.

The rebuilt line is proposed to be 80 feet high, an increase of about 32 feet, and would be 45 feet from the southwest side of the right of way (ROW), a decrease of 30 feet on that side, the commission added. On the other side of the ROW, the distance from the proposed rebuilt Line 80 to the edge of the ROW would increase from 75 feet to 105 feet.

The commission also noted that the estimated cost for the rebuild is $63.6m, which would be allocated on a region-wide basis, with Maine’s share of that allocation to be about $5.1m.

The rebuild of Line 80 was originally included in CMP’s Maine Power Reliability Program (MPRP) in Docket No. 2008-00255, but consideration of the need for projects in the Midcoast and Portland areas were deferred as a result of an order approving a stipulation in that case. The commission added that as part of the MPRP order, it required CMP and GridSolar, LLC to file non-transmission alternative (NTA) pilot projects for the Midcoast and Portland areas as a means of addressing reliability needs in such areas. The order also directed CMP and GridSolar to file a detailed description of the pilot projects, and that upon such filing the commission would open an adjudicatory proceeding. The commission added that certain pilot projects have been considered under the current docket. Rebuilding Line 80 was among several reliability projects in the Midcoast for which possible NTAs together with transmission projects were being discussed by the parties.

The commission also noted that the hearing examiners in October 2018 put all aspects of the proceeding on hold, with that determination based on uncertainty regarding the status or the results of the anticipated ISO New England (ISO-NE) Maine Needs Assessment and the issue of whether the commission intended to reopen the local transmission standards proceeding in Docket No. 2011-00494. Since then, the commission has issued an order approving a stipulation in Docket No. 2011-00494 in which revised local transmission planning standards were adopted and ISO-NE has issued its Final Upper 2029 Maine Needs Assessment.

The commission added that CMP in January filed a letter asking the hearing examiners to schedule a case conference in order for parties to discuss the need to upgrade Section 80, as well as the overall approach to addressing the reliability needs in the Midcoast area. According to CMP, there was an immediate need to rebuild Line 80 because of the request to interconnect by a new customer, Nordic Aquafarms, a new aqua culture salmon farm facility located in Belfast, Maine. The commission added that CMP noted that the interconnection of that customer would require the rebuild of Line 80 in order to meet certain contingencies at peak load level conditions.

The commission said, for instance, that interventions in the proceeding are due April 24; data requests are due May 8; data responses are due May 15; and a case conference/technical conference is scheduled for June 24. The conference will be held telephonically in light of COVID-19, the commission noted, adding that the call-in number for the conference is 877-455-0244, PIN 343 150 2806.

Among other things, the commission said that the purpose of the conference is to follow up on data requests, discuss the plans for a non-wires alternative (NWA) report by the NWA coordinator, and develop a further schedule for the processing of the matter.