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Lawmakers want Maine plugged into Canadian electricity project

Mainers are still arguing about the plan to bring Canadian hydropower into the state through the CMP corridor, and a legislator now wants to get involved in another.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Mainers are still arguing about the plan to bring Canadian hydropower into the state through the proposed CMP corridor, and now a legislator wants the state to get involved in another big Canadian transmission line project.

This one is called the Atlantic Loop and is being proposed by the federal government to expand the transmission line system in the Maritime provinces, in order to take electricity from major hydro dams in Labrador and Quebec. The goal is to provide clean, renewable energy to help fight climate change, at a time when Nova Scotia is reported to still get more than half its electricity from burning coal.

Rep. Chris Kessler (D-South Portland) wants Maine to get involved in the planning for the Atlantic Loop because he said he proposed power lines could come very close to northern Maine. Kessler said previous project maps have shown the line actually cutting through Maine, although the most recent does not.

He suggests tying Maine into the Atlantic Loop could bring a lot of clean energy into the state, but might also be a way to send some of our own surplus electricity out to market.

“It is an economic opportunity for our state to be an energy exporter to not just New England but Atlantic Canada. I see it not as two nations but as one species looking to de-carbonize our way of life.”

The project is still a proposal at this point, and Dan Burgess, Director of the Governor’s Energy Office said Maine has not been invited to join the project at this point and also pointed out the current maps don’t have the line running through Maine, although we border both Quebec and New Brunswick.

Kessler said it's important for Maine to get connected to the planning so we can take advantage of any opportunities. 

Burgess told members of the Legislature’s Energy and Utilities Committee he thinks state government can keep up with the planning for Atlantic Loop by doing the same monitoring it has been using since the idea surfaced. 

The Committee will still need to vote on Kessler’s bill, which would instruct state government to seek greater involvement.