Maine Senate approves bill for Aroostook County transmission line
A proposed transmission line connecting Aroostook County to the New England power grid has passed another hurdle at the State House.
The Maine Senate voted 24-9 on Thursday to give preliminary approval to a bill authorizing construction of a 1,200-megawatt transmission line. The $2 billion project would carry electricity from a massive wind farm proposed for commercial timberlands near Oakfield. Maine ratepayers are expected to pick up about $1 billion of the cost, although supporters say the glut of low-cost wind energy will ultimately lower electricity rates.
Those supporters include Senate President Troy Jackson of Allagash, who says his home county has been waiting for decades for a cost-effective way to feed renewable energy into the New England grid.
"This just makes good sense: if it's less money than ratepayers are paying, the people in Maine are going to be providing this energy, the people in Maine are going to be building these facilities and the transmission line, having that opportunity, bringing people to Maine and bringing people to Aroostook County," he says.
But several senators opposed the bill because they developers have yet to disclose the precise route of the transmission line or the rate that would be paid for the wind power.
The bill faces additional votes in the House and Senate. And both the northern Maine transmission line and the so-called King Pine wind farm project require additional regulatory approvals.