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.
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: https://www.clf.org/newsroom/clf-lepage-outrageous-wind-decision/
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.