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    Regulators restart process for northern Maine renewable energy project

    By Robbie Feinberg, Maine Public,


    Utility regulators are restarting the process of building renewable energy infrastructure in northern Maine.

    Last year, the Public Utilities Commission terminated an agreement on the construction of a 1,000 megawatt wind farm in Aroostook County, and a high-voltage transmission line connecting northern Maine to the New England power grid. The deal was killed after months of negotiations, with a dispute over pricing with transmission line developer LS Power serving as one of the primary points of disagreement.

    But last week, the commission issued an order asking developers to share their interest and provide information on potential new bids related to the northern Maine project.

    Maine Public Utilities Commission Chair Phil Bartlett hopes the new effort will offer more upfront clarity on what the commission expects in an agreement.

    “I think one of the things we’re thinking about is, could we put out a draft contract with the RFP, so that the parties kind of know how we expect risk to be allocated, sort of what we’re envisioning, in terms of a final deal,” Bartlett said. “So that it’s easier, I think, for folks to structure their bids around that. So we want to make sure we do it right and get it right, so that we save time on the back end.”

    Bartlett said the commission has somewhat more flexibility on what projects can be built, and he said Maine can work with other states to help defray costs to ratepayers.

    “Our goal here is to get a project built as soon as we can. And we want to take some of what we learned from the last process, get some additional information, and then hopefully put together a process that works better than the last one did,” Bartlett said.

    The utilities commission is asking developers to share information on possible future projects, contract terms, land-use issues and on how new legislation could impact future development. Comments from developers are due June 21, and indications of interest are due by July 8.

    Bartlett said the commission has no clear timeline for how quickly it expects to begin seeking formal bids in the process.

    This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public .

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