Plans that would send a surge in wind power from Aroostook County to the rest of New England received a boost Tuesday after the Public Utilities Commission concluded that purchasing power from a proposed wind farm via a new transmission line would benefit Maine’s electric customers would benefit. Ultimately, the move could open the door to other clean energy generation in northern Maine.
The PUC estimated that the projects would cost planpayers a total of $1 billion over the contract term, which would add an additional $1 a month to a typical residential utility bill for the first 10 years of the contract. Commissioner Patrick Scully agreed that the increase met the requirements of Maine statute, but warned of the cumulative impact of using electricity tariffs to fund public policy goals such as economic development and combating climate change.
The three commissioners’ unanimous vote came about a month after Massachusetts officials ordered their power distribution companies to enter into long-term contracts for up to 40% of the transmission project’s service payments for up to 20 years. This cost sharing was critical to PUC’s calculation that the projects would save Maine clients money over time.