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Next steps take shape for Northern Maine Transmission Infrastructure Line

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(The Center Square) – Next steps are taking shape for using northern Maine’s robust wind power resources on a path toward renewable energy.

The Northern Maine Transmission Infrastructure Line in Aroostook County was established in Legislative Document 924, passed in mid-June by both chambers of the Legislature and signed June 22 into law by Gov. Janet Mills.

The intergovernmental project is funded by Maine (60%) and Massachusetts (40%).

Dan Burgess, director of the Governor’s Energy Office, in a statement said the “regional coordination to advance renewable energy solutions is critical.”

He and other Maine officials have cited a number of reasons why they supported the components within LD924. Working toward the state’s climate goals, job creation, and consumers’ utility bills have been cited as benefits.

“With Maine households and businesses facing high energy costs – due to New England’s over-reliance on expensive, imported natural gas to generate our electricity – these projects are poised to deliver new renewable energy to the region,” Burgess said.

LS Power Grid Maine has been awarded the contract to build the transmission line in a years-long project. It’s wholly owned subsidiary of LS Power from Chesterfield, Mo.

Once completed, the line – stretching from Aroostook County to Pittsfield – is expected to carry 1,200 megawatts of power.

“The Legislature’s bipartisan approval is a major step toward ensuring Maine meets its ambitious renewable energy and climate goals in a cost-conscious manner, while realizing economic benefits for the state,” Paul Thessen, president of LS Power Development, said in a statement.

While there have been a number of advocates for the proposal, other state-based groups are adopting a wait-and-see approach before fully commenting on it.

Jacob Posik is director of communications with the Maine Policy Institute, a free-market think tank. In an emailed statement to The Center Square, Posik said there are additional questions that need answering.

“The project has the potential to reduce energy costs for consumers and businesses, but unfortunately, there’s still much to be learned about it,” Posik said.

“According to Maine’s Public Advocate, the permitting for the project has barely begun and the developer has not yet determined the location or cost of the proposed transmission line,” Posik said. “These variables make its benefit to Mainers uncertain at this time.”

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