MPX Project Update

It has been a busy time for MPX over these past several months. Here is a quick update on the MPX project:

1.     Significant Project Advancements

New Wind Resources: MPX has stressed from the beginning that pairing bids in the Mass 83D RFP will create the optimal solution for Massachusetts customers. MPX has received significant interest from additional northern Maine wind developers to join CLW in participating with MPX as the transmission solution for northern Maine wind. Because MPX has achieved I.3.9 approval from ISO-NE, CLW’s System Impact Study is already underway. The other northern Maine wind projects currently bogged down by the Cluster Study process can be re-directed to the MPX / K Street Substation interconnection point and immediately progress towards interconnection approval, thereby unleashing this vast wind energy resource.

New Hydro Resources: MPX is currently designing a new 25-mile, 345kV AC tie between its northern DC Converter Station and the New Brunswick system, thereby allowing the addition of 210-375MWs of incremental hydro resources, proposed by Canadian generators in the Mass 83D RFP, to the MPX line for delivery directly to Boston. Pairing wind with hydro is an explicitly stated preference in the Massachusetts Act to Promote Energy Diversity, which triggered the RFP process. This new tie line will enable a diverse mix of wind, hydro, domestic and Canadian resources, with no increase to the transmission price proposed in the Mass 83D RFP bid.

Low Cost, High Capacity Factor: By combining existing wind and hydro proposals, MPX will achieve a highly competitive transmission cost and a capacity factor over 90%. This results in a proposal that is likely half the cost of the offshore wind proposals in the Mass 83D RFP processes.

No Opposition: The objections and protests following the announcement of Northern Pass illustrate the unique positioning and advantages of the MPX project and its shippers. Wind projects in Aroostook County Maine do not face the same level of opposition as projects in other parts of Maine and New England. Rather, they are welcomed. In addition, MPX proposes to bury 100% of the HVDC line in an existing energy corridor through Maine and under the ocean to Boston. Buried lines rarely face the same opposition as overhead projects, thereby limiting the risk to successfully permitting the project. MPX has been working with stakeholders regarding the siting of the project and is confident it can be permitted and delivered on schedule. There are no indications of any opposition to CLW or MPX at this time.

Serves Massachusetts: The CLW/MPX proposal is the only project designed to deliver directly to Boston, Massachusetts. The project will provide significant benefits to Massport through the reconstruction of the Conley Terminal pier and the opportunity to provide shore-to-ship power for idling cruise ships at the Flynn Cruiseport. In addition to bringing construction jobs and tax revenues to the City of Boston, MPX will provide significant electric reliability benefits to one of the region’s largest load centers.

We strongly believe that the best solution for the ratepayers of Massachusetts is to combine elements of several of the Mass RFP bids, thereby maximizing benefits and minimizing risk for all parties. We stand ready to work with the Mass 83D Evaluation Team toward that end.

2.     County Line is Exempt from Governor LePage’s Executive Order

Exemption: The CLW project is exempt from the implications of Governor LePage’s Executive Order restricting wind power projects because it is sited in eastern Aroostook County. The Order indicated three areas where there would be a “moratorium” on the issuance of wind project permits: 1) Western Maine, 2) Maine’s coast and coastal islands, and 3) significant avian migratory pathways. The to-be-established Wind Advisory Committee’s focus is limited to these areas. In a response to an inquiry from MPX, Steven McGrath, Director of the Governor’s Energy Office, stated, “The order was not intended to apply to development around Mars Hill, or eastern Aroostook County.” Eastern Aroostook County is defined in the Draft legislation, discussed below.

Proposed Bill: House Bill 1255 (LD No. 1810) proposes a new geographic definition for the “expedited permitting area” to mean specified places that are identified by rule and specifically described as the Town of St. Francis, St. John Plantation, the Town of Fort Kent, the Town of Wallagrass, the Town of Eagle Lake, Winterville Plantation, T14 R6 W.E.L.S., the Town of Portage Lake, Nashville Plantation, Garfield Plantation, T10 R6 W.E.L.S., Oxbow Plantation, the portion of Aroostook County east of those municipalities and also all municipalities in Aroostook County that are wholly located south of the northernmost extent of Penobscot County, excluding Cary Plantation and Molunkus Township. The CLW project is clearly within this newly-defined expedited permitting area. A map showing this area is depicted below.

Maine Expedited Permitting Map.png

Legality: It should also be noted that there is a question regarding the fundamental legality of the Executive Order. The Conservation Law Foundation has filed a lawsuit in Maine’s Superior Court to block the Executive Order. More information here:

3.     NRG Announcement

On February 7, NRG Energy, Inc. announced the sale of its renewables businesses and its interest in NRG Yield (NYSE: NYLD) to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a leading independent infrastructure fund that invests in infrastructure assets and businesses ($40 billion AUM). The sale includes all of NRG Renewables’ 6.4 GW development pipeline, inclusive of County Line Wind. GIP has a demonstrated track record of investment and value creation in the renewable energy sector, and this investment fits squarely into GIP’s global renewables investment strategy. GIP has invested or committed approximately $9 billion of equity in the sector, including 8 GW of operating renewable assets and over 14 GW of renewable assets under construction or in development. 

This transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, will positively impact NRG’s ability to develop and construct the CLW project. Prior to closing, the project continues to have ready access to necessary development capital and organizational support to advance without delay.

In conclusion, the MPX project team is dedicated to the pursuit of the project and the conversion to a clean energy future for Maine, Massachusetts and New England. We look forward to engaging with stakeholders across the region to refine and perfect the project. Please feel to reach out anytime. 

Massachusetts RFP Update

There has been a flurry of activity in the New England energy world lately, so we felt it was time to provide an update on the status of the Massachusetts Request for Proposals (“Mass RFP”) and the MPX project.

Back in July 2017, MPX, and our project co-developer Con Edison Transmission, teamed up with NRG Renewables on their County Line Wind (“CLW”) project and submitted a proposal into the Mass 83D RFP. Over the following several months, the team responded to six rounds of questions from the Mass 83D RFP Evaluation Team, met with industry stakeholders, progressed the project with ISO-NE, and raised awareness of the project among other clean energy generators and Canadian utilities interested in working with MPX. MPX also garnered letters of support from the Loring Development Authority and the Northern Maine Development Commission. We are very proud of the project we proposed and will continue to promote its successful development in this and future RFPs.

On January 25th, the Massachusetts Electric Distribution Companies (“EDCs”), Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”), and an Independent Evaluator completed their evaluation of bids received in response to the Mass 83D RFP. “Northern Pass Transmission, Hydro” was determined to be the winning bid. The final acceptance of the bid and the award of contracts is conditional upon the successful negotiation of contracts and required regulatory approval at the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.

MPX was disappointed with the outcome of the Mass 83D RFP. So too, are many others. Shortly following this announcement, the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (“NHSEC”) rejected a key permit needed by Northern Pass to begin construction. This has caused some confusion as to how to proceed. An announcement regarding the status of the Mass 83D RFP is expected on February 16. The key point is that if Northern Pass does not successfully negotiate contracts due to this permitting setback, another bid or possibly a combination of bids may be selected to advance to contract negotiations. MPX and NRG stand united and have submitted a letter to the MA 83D RFP Evaluation Team stating our commitment to the project and readiness to negotiate contracts.

We will keep you posted pending the February 16 announcement.

Project Update

There has been a lot of activity lately, so much in fact that it's been hard to keep up with the news posts. So to rectify that, here are a few highlights. 

  • The County Line and MPX bid is still under review by the Massachusetts 83D RFP Evaluation Team. On November 1st, we received a list of 11 questions and on November 6th we received 2 more questions. We've provided a response to both sets of questions and look forward to submitting further updates over the next several weeks. 
  • On October 31st, MPX received I.3.9 approval from ISO-NE for the interconnection point at K Street. This is a significant project milestone and our partner, ConEdison Transmission, posted a press release regarding the achievement. The press release can be seen here and here.
  • MPX has been meeting with several stakeholder groups, such as the Conservation Law Foundation and the Maine Lobstermen's Association in order to provide project information and get feedback from these stakeholders. Several more of these meetings are currently in the works. 
  • MPX attended the New England - Canada Business Council "Energy Trade and Technology Conference" November 8 & 9 in Boston, MA. See more here and here. It was great to be able to hear from the excellent panelists and work with our peers on increasing New England and Canada energy trade.

Feel free to contact us at anytime to learn more about the project and thanks for following. 

News and Events Roundup

Below is a summary of some recent news articles and events regarding the MPX and the Massachusetts RFP.

Sept. 14 - An article from The Free Press, discussing the recent E2Tech forum is posted here.

Sept. 7 - MPX Project Manager Ryan Gahagan presented at the E2Tech "Regional and State Energy Policy Update" forum at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. Ryan provided an overview of the MPX project and responded to questions from the audience. Ryan was joined by Sara Burns, President & CEO of Central Maine Power on a panel to discuss the Massachusetts RFP and the role Maine is playing in the regional energy landscape. 

Aug. 2 - MaineBiz article "New proposal would deliver northern Maine wind power to Boston." 

Aug. 2 - Portland Press Herald Article "Energy giant Con Ed proposes to deliver Maine wind energy to Boston." The only point of clarification needed is that the County Line Wind project is proposed by NRG, not Con Ed. Con Ed is partner to the Maine Power Express on the transmission piece only. 

Jul. 27 - Bangor Daily News article "CMP unveils plan that could quench LePage thirst for Quebec Hydropower." Brief mention of MPX. LePage has always wanted hydropower from Quebec, but the CMP plans don't involve Maine as a counter party to any energy contract. That said, the energy delivered will serve to suppress New England energy prices overall. Another point of clarification is the NRG County Line wind project is 630MWs, not 449MWs.  

MPX Submits Bid in Massachusetts RFP

Clean Energy Project to Link Maine and Boston

Con Edison Transmission and Maine Power Express Partner to Deliver Clean Energy to Massachusetts

BOSTON – August 1, 2017 - Maine Power Express has partnered to bid clean energy from Maine into the Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP.

The Maine Power Express (MPX) is a proposed 1,040 MW HVDC transmission line to be buried completely underground in an existing energy corridor and under water, direct to Boston, MA. Maine Power Express, LLC (MPX, LLC) and Con Edison Transmission, Inc. have been partnering in the further development of MPX.