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Maine joins multi-state pact to improve electric grid planning

FILE— Central Maine Power utility lines are seen, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, in Pownal, Maine. Rolling blackouts may hit New England if there's an extended cold snap this winter. The CEO of power grid operator ISO New England said the situation is "precarious" because natural gas is in shorter-than-normal supply and also subject to supply chain disruptions.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
FILE— Central Maine Power utility lines are seen, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, in Pownal, Maine.

Ten northeast states including Maine have formed a compact to improve regional electric transmission and connect more clean energy to the grid.

In a memorandum of understanding, the states agreed to collaborate on transmission infrastructure planning and coordinate offshore wind power development.

The states have a "joint interest in expanding transmission ties between our regions that help enhance reliability and transition to a clean energy future more quickly and affordably," according to the agreement.

The collaboration intends to draft a strategic action plan to promote development of interregional transmission projects for the burgeoning offshore wind industry.

The states also plan to coordinate on technical standards for offshore wind transmission equipment, to make sure there is flexibility and interoperability as projects come online at different times, according to a news release from the states.

Dan Burgess, director of the Governor's Energy Office in Maine, said it makes sense to work with states dealing with similar challenges, industry players and federal regulators.

Maine is expected to double its future electricity use to meet its climate goals and similar increases will be seen around the region, Burgess said. A regional focus on transmission will ensure the states are planning for how best to meet those needs, he added.

"The more that we can collaborate and plan together and be on the same page, it is better not just for clean energy and climate goals, but to stabilize electricity costs," Burgess said.

The nonbinding agreement was signed by the six New England states and New York, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.