On November 29th the Maine PUC issued an RFP to support the development of renewable generation in Northern Maine and high voltage transmission that is needed to connect Northern Maine to the ISO-NE grid. Northern Maine isn’t directly connected to the ISO-NE grid and its electricity system (peak load of about 140 MW) is administered separately. The small size of the market and the fact that renewable projects can only access ISO-NE by first flowing power through the New Brunswick Power grid has been a major barrier to renewable project development in Northern Maine.
An obvious challenge of such a procurement is the interdependence between the location and viability of renewable energy proposals and the proposed transmission lines. The RFP addresses this difficult issue by having transmission proposals submitted two months before renewable generation proposals and providing for the sharing of transmission project information with renewable project developers.
Clearly, it will be valuable for transmission developers to coordinate with renewable energy developers when designing and siting their projects. There’s a history of this recognizing that a number of transmission proposals (e.g., Maine Power and Maine Renewable Energy Interconnect) were developed to participate in Massachusetts’ 83-D RFP. Furthermore, the RFP allows renewable developers to offer distinct pricing for different transmission projects, recognizing that project configurations (i.e., interconnection point and layout) may differ with different transmission projects.
The RFP indicates that proposals will be evaluated on the basis of cost and value to Maine ratepayers, with value considering market value of energy products, locational value, and amount and form of transmission. The RFP stresses that the focus will be on the cost and value to Maine ratepayers. This indicates that innovative strategies where project cost responsibility is shared more broadly are likely to be viewed favorably (e.g., Corp PPAs with Southern New England customers). #renewableenergy #transmission