Commission Chairwoman Sharon Reishus is confident that “the project will bring net economic benefit to Maine ratepayers and will allow Maine to meet its electric transmission needs for the next ten years.”
The plan approved by the commission includes provisions for a smart grid pilot program and non-transmission alternatives; $17 million for energy efficiency programs; the creation of an ombudsman to resolve landowner issues; and financial support for Maine’s participation in electricity transmission planning.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection and more than half of the 81 cities and towns along the route of the proposed upgrade have already approved the project. CMP customers will pay eight percent of the cost and other users of the New England power grid will pay the rest. CMP said the project will create about 2,100 new jobs and provide $61 million in wages for each year of construction.
Vermont’s smart grid project, eEnergy Vermont, which includes the implementation of Central Vermont Public Service’s SmartPower, is already underway. Part of eEnergy Vermont’s $68 million price tag will be paid for through a grant awarded to Vermont’s utilities by the Department of Energy in October 2009. Financing for the rest will be supplied through loans or bonds.