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September 11 2008 UMFK TO HOST BREAKFAST ON TRANSMISSION LINE PROPOSAL

September 11, 2008

NR08077

The University of Maine at Fort Kent continues its long-running series of topical business subjects when it hosts a business breakfast on Wednesday, September 24 at 7:30 a.m. in the Nowland Hall dining room. 

The topic of the breakfast is “The Maine Power Connection: The Feasibility of connecting to the Central Maine and New England power grids.”   

The guest speaker for the breakfast will be Brent Boyles, president and CEO, Maine & Maritimes Corporation; Maine Public Service Company. 

Tickets for the breakfast are $10 each, and may be purchased at the UMFK University Relations Office, or by calling 834-7557. 

The Maine Power Connection (MPC) is a project of Maine Public Service (MPS) and Central Maine Power Company (CMP), created to study the feasibility of building a new transmission line from Aroostook County to the Central Maine and New England transmission electric grid. The project will enhance competition, enable the development of renewable energy resources and improve service and reliability.   

Presently, the MPS system is connected directly to the eastern Canadian electric power grid through New Brunswick.  MPS does not benefit from a direct connection to the New England bulk power transmission system.

In November 2006, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) received only one standard offer bid to supply electricity to northern Maine. The Commission concluded in a report to the Maine Legislature that  “the competitive situation in northern Maine had gone from worrisome to one of obvious failure” and recommended further study of possible solutions to address the lack of competition, including the viability of a direct transmission connection of the MPS system to the New England electric grid. In response to this finding and to requests to connect more than 800 megawatt of proposed wind generation to serve Maine and New England consumers, MPS and CMP entered into an agreement to study the feasibility of a new transmission line. Following a request by MPS, the independent system operator in New England, ISO-New England, agreed to study the benefits of the MPC.

This past July, MPS and CMP submitted a petition to the Main Public Utilities Commission seeking permission to construct a 345 kilovolt transmission line that, for the first time, will connect the northern and southern Maine bulk transmission grids.   

Once fully constructed, the 200-mile line will run from Limestone to Detroit, where it will interconnect with CMP’s upgraded system.  Construction of this line will enable the development in northern Maine of 800 megawatts of renewable wind energy and provide access to competitive electric markets.   

MPS has requested membership in ISO New England, and asked the MPUC to determine that it should become a Participating Transmission Owner within ISO New England.  Additionally, MPS is pursuing the inclusion of the MPC in ISO-NE regional system plan for 2008 with the objective of having costs shared and borne by all transmission customers in New England. 

The MPC project offers transformational economic and environmental benefits to Aroostook County, to the State of Maine, and to all of New England.        

Connect northern Maine directly to the U.S. electric grid, providing access to competitive markets for wholesale and retail supplies of electricity for customers in northern Maine.       

The development of 800 MW of wind energy to the Maine grid will help push down the price of power.       

Creating market competition in northern Maine and introducing the sustainable sources of wind power to the grid, are the best opportunities ratepayers in northern Maine and the entire State have to realize level or reduced electrical rates.       

Construction of the MPC project will stimulate the development of hundreds of megawatts of wind capacity, helping Maine meet its renewable resources portfolio requirements and its Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) goals.       

The MPC project will diversify Maine’s and New England’s energy portfolio from its current severe over-dependence on oil and natural gas.·       

The MPC project will provide reliable electric service to businesses and homeowners.       

The MPC project will create green jobs and add $13 million additional local property tax revenues annually.  The wind power projects that MPC will enable will also generate significant property tax revenues for the municipalities they are located in. 

The preliminary cost estimate for the approximately 200 miles of transmission lines and substation facilities required to support the interconnection of 800 megawatts of wind power is estimated to be in the $625 million range.   

Under ISO-NE rules, many bulk power projects are considered regional investments and if projects are designated as Pool Transmission Facilities, the cost of construction and maintenance is shared with other participating New England Utilities and their customers.  Under the current ISO-NE formula, Maine ratepayers would bear approximately 8 percent of eligible program costs. 

Brent M. Boyles has been director of Maine & Maritimes Corporation since January 2007.  Mr. Boyles has twenty-four years of experience in the regulated electric utility industry, with extensive experience in corporate planning, regulatory compliance, rate design, and operations.   

Prior to serving as President and CEO, Boyles has served as Maine Public Service Company's Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Vice President of Marketing and Customer Service, Manager of Planning and Systems Operations, Manager of Corporate Planning, Supervisor of Power Supply and Planning, and as a Planning Engineer.  He holds a Bachelor's degree from the U.S. Military Academy, a graduate degree in Management, and a Master of Science degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.