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Maine Commission Grants CMP Required Certificate for NECEC Project

On May 3, 2019, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) granted Central Maine Power Company’s (CMP) request for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to construct the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), a clean energy transmission project capable of delivering up to 1,200 MW of hydroelectric energy from Hydro-Québec to New England, beginning no later than December 2022. NECEC was the winning bid in the Massachusetts Electric Distribution Companies’ most recent competitive solicitation for onshore clean energy generation and associated transmission (Section 83D RFP), issued pursuant to the 2008 Massachusetts Green Communities Act, as amended in 2016 by the Act to Promote Energy Diversity. This Order is an important step in CMP’s pursuit of all required federal, state, and local permits for the project.

In the Order, MPUC conducted a “careful weighing of the benefits and costs of the NECEC,” and found that NECEC is in the public interest of the ratepayers and residents of the state of Maine. MPUC found that NECEC will benefit customers by lowering wholesale electricity prices, increasing system reliability and fuel security within the ISO-NE region, displacing fossil fuel generation, and providing economic benefits to Maine communities, including new jobs and tax benefits. Also in the Order, MPUC approved a proposed stipulation signed by a number of parties to the proceeding that will augment the benefits of NECEC to Maine ratepayers and communities.

In determining that there was a public need for NECEC and that the project was in the public interest, MPUC specifically found that NECEC would: 

  • Reduce wholesale energy prices in Maine and across the region by between $14 - $44 million per year in nominal dollars, with estimated net present value benefits over the first 15 years of NECEC operations from $122 - $384 million (2023$).
  • Reduce wholesale capacity prices in Maine and across New England, with estimated benefits in Maine of $19 million per year in nominal dollars for the first ten years, with estimated net present value benefits over the first ten years of NECEC operations of $101 million.
  • Increase the reliability of the Maine transmission system and provide fuel security to Maine and the region by delivering substantial amounts of baseload hydroelectric energy from Québec.
  • Provide substantial direct, indirect and induced macroeconomic benefits, including new jobs and increased municipal tax revenue.
  • Result in a reduction of 3.0 to 3.6 metric tons of regional carbon emissions each year through the NECEC’s delivery of 9.45 TWh of clean, hydroelectric generation into New England from Québec.

In addition, MPUC found that the benefits package contained in the approved Stipulation will provide a total of $250 million in benefits to Maine over 40 years (in nominal dollars), with estimated net present value benefits of $72 - $85 million to Maine. The Stipulation benefits package includes a $40 million low-income customer benefit fund, a $140 million rate relief fund, a commitment to expand broadband internet access, funding for heat pumps and electric vehicle infrastructure, and funding for additional economic and community development in host communities.

Based on such findings, MPUC held that NECEC’s benefits to Maine ratepayers and citizens “significantly outweigh the cost and detriments” of the project, and approved the issuance of the CPCN subject to certain conditions. Other federal and state permitting processes for NECEC are ongoing.

©2019 Pierce Atwood LLP. All rights reserved.

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About this Author

Jared S. des Rosiers energy attorney Pierce Atwood
Partner

Jared des Rosiers' practice focuses on complex energy regulatory, infrastructure development and siting, and litigation matters before the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and state and federal courts around the country.

In each case, Jared strives to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for success in collaboration with his clients and then to efficiently implement that plan through advocacy, negotiation and creativity.  When litigation is necessary, Jared uses discovery, witness preparation, motion practice, and trial, as...

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Sarah Tracy Energy Generation Attorney
Partner

Sarah advises energy generation facilities and industrial and large commercial energy users with respect to energy and regulatory issues and due diligence matters.  Sarah also represents electric, natural gas, and telecommunications utilities before state regulatory entities. 

Sarah assists energy project owners and developers with due diligence in connection with energy infrastructure acquisitions and negotiates key energy agreements, including power purchase agreements, natural gas supply agreements and firm gas transportation agreements, and renewable energy credit purchase and sale agreements. 

Sarah also represents electricity utilities and natural gas local distribution companies (LDC) in major rate increase proceedings, as well as natural gas capacity and cost of gas proceedings before public utilities commissions.  Sarah also assists electricity, natural gas and telecommunications utilities to obtain public utilities commission approval of affiliate transactions and mergers and acquisitions. 

Sarah’s experience prior to joining Pierce Atwood includes working as a staff attorney with the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) in the Legal and the Electricity and Gas Division.  This experience provides her with unique insight into the perspectives of energy regulators. 

Before she joined the MPUC, Sarah was a shareholder in the Energy and Environmental Practice Group at Bernstein Shur and an associate in the Litigation Practice Group at Holland & Knight LLP in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Sarah also served as law clerk to the Honorable Donald G. Alexander of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

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Liam J. Paskvan, litigation lawyer, Pierce Atwood
Associate

Liam is an energy and energy infrastructure attorney focusing on both litigation and transactional matters. He represents solar farm developers and on- and offshore wind developers, electric and natural gas local distribution companies (LDCs), crude oil shippers, energy market financial traders, telecommunications providers, and others before state public utilities commissions throughout New England and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). He also represents clients in a variety of other settings, including in regional and state-sponsored requests for proposals (RFPs) for...

(207) 791-1306