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.