Chesterville told CMP projects could benefit town, state

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CHESTERVILLE — A Central Maine Power spokesman shared information about proposed projects that could benefit the town with selectmen Thursday night.

“Anything affecting the New England energy market affects Maine,” John Carroll said. “New England is extremely dependent on natural gas for electricity and susceptible to swings in natural gas prices. 

He said Massachusetts is looking to purchase non-carbon-based energy. In March, requests for proposals were sent to companies throughout the Northeast for projects that could supply about 9 percent of the electricity generated in New England in 2016.

He said 46 proposals were submitted. Several involve CMP and Hydro-Quebec. Two involve a direct-current line from Lewiston to The Forks and into Canada using corridors already owned by CMP.

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“We can link our system into the Canadian one,” Carroll said. “The two aren’t synchronous, which is an advantage. A disadvantage is the direct-current line is an expressway and nothing else could network into it. There would be conversion points in Canada and Lewiston.” 

Other projects would use alternating current. A substation would be built in northwestern Franklin County. Electricity could be provided either by a wind project near the border, plus a solar storage facility in Moscow, or a wind project in Canada.

Anticipated benefits include:

• Introducing large amounts of low-cost hydroelectricity to the New England grid would displace natural gas, suppressing prices 20 years out. For Maine, it would save about $45 million per year.

• An average of 1,700 jobs annually would be created during the 4½ years of construction.

• The generation of $18 million per year in new property taxes.

• Eliminating natural gas would lead to cleaner air.

• Investment in the Maine grid would create a marginally more reliable system.

“The key for Maine people is this would not be paid for by Maine ratepayers,” Carroll said. “Massachusetts will pay all costs.”

He said CMP is competing against projects that are further along. Some of those involve Lake Champlain in Vermont and the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

Massachusetts is looking at project costs, viability and the ability of proposing groups to complete the project, he said.

“CMP’s projects will cost hundreds of millions dollars less than other projects,” Carroll said. “They are more viable — they’re not going through a major lake or a national forest. We’re the only utility that has completed a project on this scale.”

He added, “CMP’s Maine Power Plant Liability project was finished on time and on budget. We’re well-positioned and already considered good neighbors.”

Carroll has been meeting with towns and has received letters of community support.

“We want to show Massachusetts our communities aren’t opposed. Other projects are being fought bitterly,” Carroll said.

Resident Bob Cox asked how much it would cost the town.

“CMP is not asking for money,” Carroll said. “Every town has different corridor lengths. There will be some new investments, taxes. Lewiston is the real winner. We’d have to build a converter station there.” 

Selectman Chairman Tyler Jenness said, “It will make money. I’m sold.”

No action could be taken because of the lack of a quorum.

pharnden@sunmediagroup.net

Thursday night, CMP spokesman John Carroll at right shared details of project proposals that could benefit the town. Also pictured from left are Selectman Matt Welch, Highway Foreman Michael Cote and Selectman Chairman Tyler Jenness. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

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