Maine utilities to develop transmission projects in New England

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Emera Maine and Central Maine Power (CMP) recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for joint transmission project development, which identified a number of potential projects that could be developed together.

The projects would improve transmission links between southern New England and northern Maine, where more than 2,100 MW of wind power development have been proposed.

The agreement between the utilities comes in response to a call by the six New England governors for investments in the region's energy infrastructure to diversify the energy portfolio and gain access to new renewable energy resources.

As the state's two largest utilities, Central Maine Power and Emera Maine serve more than 95 percent of Maine's homes and businesses. The utilities have significant expertise with transmission projects, including the MEPCO transmission line that extends from central Maine to New Brunswick, Canada.

The companies have outlined two initial phases of work. Phase One will analyze the feasibility of each project, including technical feasibility, public policy, regulatory considerations, and outreach to other potential parties to the project. Phase Two will include all development activities from design, engineering, siting, through construction bidding.

Central Maine Power is the state's largest utility serving 605,000 homes and businesses in the southern third of the state. The company is nearing completion of the Maine Power Reliability Program, a $1.4 billion investment in new transmission lines and substations to reinforce its 345,000 volt bulk power grid.

Emera Maine, which includes the former Bangor Hydro Electric and Maine Public Service, serves about 154,000 homes and businesses in eastern and northern Maine. Significant transmission projects completed by Emera Maine include the 43-mile, 115,000 volt Downeast Reliability Project, and the 85-mile, 345,000 volt Northeast Reliability Interconnect in 2007.

Both companies have long records of service in Maine and direct ties to the international utility industry. Central Maine Power has operated in Maine since 1898. The company was acquired by Iberdrola in 2008, which is the world's fifth largest utility based on market value.

In the U.S., Iberdrola USA is the nation's second largest wind energy company, and it operates electric and gas utilities serving nearly 3 million customers in New York and New England. Emera Maine is a unit of Nova Scotia based Emera Inc., a full service energy company operating throughout the Northeast U.S., Atlantic Canada, and the Caribbean.

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