BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFPlug Power Inc. recently participated in the recent grand opening of Ace Hardware’s first all hydrogen material handling fleet at the company’s newly constructed Wilmer, Texas warehouse. In addition, Ace has ordered further GenDrive units for another distribution center being built in West Jefferson, Ohio.
  • The Export-Import Bank of the United States is providing a $64.5 million direct loan to Astidey S.A., in Montevideo, Uruguay, for the purchase of U.S.-manufactured wind-turbine generators being exported by Gamesa Technology Corporation Inc., headquartered in Feasterville-Trevose, Pa. The authorization will support approximately 400 U.S. jobs, according to bank estimates derived from Departments of Commerce and Labor data and methodology. Gamesa will supply, transport, install and commission 25 of its G97 2.0-megawatt (MW) wind turbines in the 50 MW Talas de Maciel I wind farm in the Department of Flores, Uruguay, located approximately 135 kilometers northwest of Montevideo.
  • RGS Energy has completed its previously announced private equity offering for gross proceeds of approximately $7.0 million. The company plans to use the net proceeds of approximately $6.4 million to support the launch of its residential leasing platform and for general working capital purposes, including debt repayment.
  • With funding from the Maryland Energy Administration Offshore Wind Development Fund, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has secured a $1.1M commitment from the U.S. Dept. of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to gather scientific information about the bionetwork of the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Area. This effort is intended to protect the ecosystem while providing opportunities for deployment of advanced renewable energy technology within the state. The interagency agreement establishes a jointly-funded project to study marine mammal populations off the coast of Maryland to help those agencies and the public better understand the geographic distribution, abundance, and densities of large whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

Wind Energy Faces Challenges

According to a new paper, “Challenges for Wind Energy’s Future,” although a negligible player in electricity generation, wind energy comes at an exorbitant taxpayer expense. In addition, the report finds that the wind industry faces several likely “insurmountable” challenges to becoming a dependable part of America’s energy portfolio.

Author Merrill Matthews, Ph.D., discusses in the paper that while wind itself may be free, the IPI Ideas Challenges for Wind Energyprice to harness it as a source of renewable energy is not. Matthews reports that wind energy accounted for only 4 percent of total U.S. electricity generation in 2013, but cost taxpayers a what he calls a staggering $2 billion—a vastly disproportionate tax subsidy as compared to other energy producing industries.

Matthews says it was admitted even by investor Warren Buffett that the wind energy industry would not exist without tax breaks, and the market for it has only been sustained because of government mandates.

  • In addition to its expense, writes Matthews, wind energy’s other key challenges include:
  • It’s unreliable and may not be available during peak usage;
  • It’s shown to be environmentally harmful, for example causing half a million annual bird deaths; and
  • It’s losing favor as a priority with the public.

“The quest for an economy driven by a clean, abundant and affordable renewable energy remains an unfulfilled dream—though not for a lack of lobbying, a supportive media, and lots of government money,” writes Matthews. “Wind energy’s marginal success has come at a huge taxpayer and ratepayer cost. The public’s willingness to continue to pour billions of dollars into wind energy, through higher taxes or rates, appears to be coming to a close.”

UCR Helps Solar Energy Get a Boost

A recent article published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters by University of California, Riverside (UCR) chemists looks at the research focused on “singlet fission,” a process in which a single photon generates a pair of excited states. This 1->2 conversion process has the potential to boost solar cell efficiency as much as 30 percent.

UC Riverside Singlet Fission researchIn addition to improving solar panels, the research can also aid in developing more energy-efficient lighting and photodetectors with 200 percent efficiency that can be used for night vision. Biology may use singlet fission to deal with high-energy solar photons without generating excess heat, as a protective mechanism.

Today solar cells work by absorbing a photon, which generates an exciton, which subsequently separates into an electron-hole pair. It is these electrons that become solar electricity. The efficiency of these solar cells is limited to about 32 percent; however, by what is called the “Shockley-Queisser Limit”. Future solar cells, also known as “Third Generation” solar cells, will have to surpass this limit while remaining inexpensive, requiring the use of new physical processes. Singlet fission is an example of such a process.

“Our research got its launch about ten years ago when we started thinking about solar energy and what new types of photophysics this might require,” said Christopher Bardeen, a professor of chemistry, whose lab led the research. “Global warming concerns and energy security have made solar energy conversion an important subject from society’s point-of-view. More efficient solar cells would lead to wider use of this clean energy source.”

ACE Panel Focuses on Int’l Ethanol Opportunities

The 27th Annual Ethanol Conference is fast approaching and this year a key focus will be examples of expanding international ethanol markets. American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) conference will take place on August 4-6, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

ACElogoShannon Gustafson, ACE director of strategic projects, says the panel will focus on the international sales and marketing opportunities that are available to domestic ethanol producers who are looking to tap into foreign markets. The panel will include Gene Griffith of Patriot Renewable Fuels, Chad Martin of Eco-Energy and Clayton Haupt of CHS Inc.

“This panel will provide valuable perspectives from both the producer and marketing sides of the aisle. New developing markets for ethanol aren’t just here in the U.S. anymore. Consumer demand for ethanol is growing across the globe, and this panel will highlight the potential for domestic ethanol producers to develop new revenue streams and new markets for the ethanol industry,” said Gustafson.

The ACE Conference will also feature an Innovators panel of four domestic ethanol producers who are adding new processes and technologies to their existing ethanol plants to differentiate themselves from the pack, a Retailer Roundtable involving gas station owners who are making money and attracting new customers by selling higher blends of ethanol fuel, and other topics like the future of ethanol blended fuels, a look at the proposed regulations in the Food Safety Modernization Act, and an examination of rail regulations and possible long-term improvements of the domestic rail system.

More information on the 27th Annual Ethanol Conference can be found here. Click here to register.

Ethanol & Corn Production Up, Food & Gas Prices Down

Growth Energy is attacking the myth that ethanol production increases food prices.

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy notes that time and again, Big Oil, big Food and special interests are attacking the ethanol industry and placing blame on them for rising food prices. “But when you look at the facts, nothing could be further from the truth. Recently, there has been a surge in ethanol production, while at the same time corn prices have been falling. Currently, corn is trading at $3.99, half the cost of Growth_Energy_logo-1what it traded for two years ago, yet food prices continue to rise because the cost of oil continues to climb. In fact, a recent World Bank study outlines how crude oil prices are responsible for 50 percent of the increase in food prices since 2004.”

Buis continued by noting that while Big Oil continues its “fear mongering” about the use of ethanol, American Consumers have just experienced a six year high in gas prices over the 4th of July weekend. In fact, he said, gas prices continue to stay at near record prices while ethanol is trading around one dollar per gallon below the cost of wholesale gas.

“Clearly global political unrest is once again responsible for driving consumer fuel prices higher, ” said Buis. “And, because of Big Oil’s monopoly over the fuels market, consumers currently have to pay more to drive to the store and the hits keep on coming when they check out at the grocery line! What I find interesting is that while Big Oil and Big Food continue to propagate the same old myths about food and renewable fuels, they are not as forthcoming when it comes to explaining to the public why they are making record profits on the backs of American consumers.”

“As President John Adams once said, ‘Facts are stubborn things.’” “Clearly,” said Buis, “this is the case for Big Oil, Big Food and their cronies, who are doing everything in their power to find a straw man to divert attention away from their excessive appetite for increased profit margins at the expense of hardworking American families.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFSunEdison, Inc. has announced a new project that will install 159 kilowatts (kW) of solar PV micro-grids with battery storage in six remote Indian villages, which will bring electricity to, and thereby improve health and education for, 4,875 off-grid people. Working with the Government of India’s Rural Electrification Corporation and the Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam state agency, SunEdison will build, operate and then transfer the facilities to a public entity after five years.
  • The first annual Bioproducts World Showcase & Conference will be held October 5-8, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. The OBIC Bioproducts Innovation Center (OBIC) at The Ohio State University will host the Showcase to feature innovative, biobased products in a single event for key decision makers and procurement officials from commercial and government entities. Registration is open.
  • Bechtel has successfully delivered and installed all of the modules for the first liquefied natural gas production train at the GLNG facility on Curtis Island in Queensland. The successful installation marks a major milestone in the construction of the plant, which will consist of two production trains. Train 1 is made up of 82 modules that were built at a Bechtel-managed module yard facility in the Philippines and transported to Curtis Island over a 19-month period. Modules for Train 2 are being constructed at the same facility and shipped to the island. The final modules for the second train are scheduled to be delivered and installed later this year.
  • Independent Energy Solutions (IES) has finished the construction of a solar carport project with a 325 kilowatt peak capacity located at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona. The project utilized HatiCon Solar alTite penetrating flat roof mounting system with a 15 degree tilt used in conjunction with Hyundai 250 watt solar modules. The alTite system’s long spans reduced penetrations to the carport structure. Preassembled components and no on-site fabrication allowed for faster installation under the hot Arizona sun. To further accelerate the installation time a comprehensive service package was provided by HatiCon Solar. Services were comprised of optimized, site specific engineering solutions and full logistical support.

UOP Renewable Jet Fuel Selected by Petrixo

Petrixo Oil & Gas will be using the Honeywell UOP Renewable Jet Fuel Process to produce renewable jet fuel and renewable diesel at a new refinery scheduled to be built in Fujairah United Arab Emirates. The technology will process around 500,000 metric tons per year of multiple renewable feedstocks into Honeywell Green Jet Fuel and Honeywell Green Diesel.

Honeywell Renewable Jet Fuel flightEarlier this year, Petrixo announced that it will invest $800 million to build the new refinery, which will have a design capacity of 1 million tons per year of biofuel products, and will be the first commercial-scale renewable jet fuel production facility outside of North America.

“Petrixo believes that new energy solutions are immensely important for scalable, environmental and renewable solutions,” said Dr. Eid Al Olayyan, chief executive officer of Petrixo Oil & Gas. “UOP’s green fuels technologies are proven refining solutions that produce high-quality products compatible with petroleum-based fuels.”

The UOP technology is designed to provide flexibility to adjust the feedstock mix depending on parameters such as cost and availability. The technology also enables the adoption of newer-generation feedstocks, such as oils derived from algae and halophytes, as scalable supply chains for these lipids develop.

“UOP’s renewable process technologies produce real fuels, rather than fuel additives such as biodiesel, that fit seamlessly into existing fuel supply chains,” explained Veronica May, vice president and general manager of UOP’s Renewable Energy and Chemicals business unit. “The renewable fuels produced by our technology also offer lower greenhouse gas emissions relative to traditional petroleum-based fuels.”

Blended up to 50 percent with petroleum-based jet fuel, Honeywell Green Jet Fuel requires no changes to aircraft technology, meets all critical specifications for flight, and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 to 85 percent compared with petroleum-based fuels.

Globeleq Inaugurates Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm

Globeleq has inaugurated its latest wind energy project in South Africa. The 138 MW Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm is located between the towns of Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp in Eastern Cape and has an estimated annual production of 460 GWh and will provide renewable electricity for nearly 100,000 average South African households.

Jeffreys Bay Wind-Farm-SunsetBack in April, Globeleq marked the start of operations at two solar facilities, the 50 MW De Aar and 50 MW Droogfontein installations on the Northern Cape. All facilities are part of South Africa’s renewable energy program and according to the company, are among the very first large scale renewable power plants to be built in the country.

Mikael Karlsson, Globeleq’s CEO said, “The completion of these facilities is the result of a truly global partnership with the Government of South Africa and Eskom and the private sector of developers, investors, lenders, constructors, suppliers and the local community. It demonstrates significant support for independent private power producers in the region and indicates the sustainability of the renewable energy sector. As the leading African private power company, Globeleq is committed to pursue further investments in clean and reliable power for the region.”

Similar to other countries, South Africa has identified job creation and skills development through development of renewable energy. During the wind farm’s construction, Globeleq said more than 700 people worked on the site, of which 45 percent were drawn from the local community. A percentage of the project’s operational revenues will be reinvested into the local community through socio-economic and enterprise development programs creating the skills needed to support the growth of the renewable energy industry in South Africa.

“What an exciting time to be a part of this industry. In such a short period we have built an alternative source of energy which will provide ongoing benefits for the country and the industry alike,” said Mark Pickering, Managing Director of Globeleq South Africa.

Globeleq is the majority shareholder in a consortium group, consisting of Mainstream, Old Mutual, Thebe, Enzani, Usizo and the Amadla Omoya Trust. Globeleq through its wholly owned South African subsidiary, manages the operation and commercial aspects of the Jeffreys Bay, De Aar and Droogfontein facilities.

American Ethanol Weekend Preview

American Ethanol 200 logo_resizedAmerican Ethanol is racing into Newton, Iowa for an exciting weekend at the Iowa Speedway. It’s an ethanol-powered packed event for American Ethanol. This weekend features the American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen on Friday July 11th and the Indy Corn Indy 300 presented by DeKalb on Saturday, July 12th.

This year race fans can learn about the benefits of ethanol in many ways. For example, Syngenta will be holding a media briefing to make a major announcement regarding their support for the ethanol industry, provide an update on a new cellulosic ethanol technology and discuss efforts to improve market penetration for American ethanol. Quad County Corn Processors became the first ethanol plant in Iowa to produce commercial scale cellulosic ethanol last week and the first to produce cellulosic ethanol using the Enogen corn trait. Syngenta will be working with Quad County to license the ACE technology to other ethanol plants.

In addition, FFA students living near the speedway will be stationed around the track to discuss the benefits of E15, the same fuel the NASCAR drivers will be racing with, as well as higher blends of ethanol such as E85. They will also be collecting donations to help support flex fuel infrastructure and all funds will be matched by Syngenta. The funds will be used to help retailers install equipment to offer consumers more choice at the pump.

IowaCornIndy300_712E067B4EBE7On Saturday, the ethanol fun continued at the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DeKalb. This is the 8th running of the Iowa Corn Indy sponsored event. In past years the race has been 250 laps but for the first time this year, drivers will compete to be the first to the finish line after 300 laps. This year, Indy Car will be filling up with 85% ethanol – the same fuel Iowans can find at nearly 200 stations.

Both races begin at 7:30 pm and DomesticFuel.com will be bringing readers weekend ethanol race event coverage. You can also follow the events via Twitter @DomesticFuel and @jmschroeder and on DF’s Facebook page. We’ll see you for some #EthanolFun!

Dominion Virginia Power Dedicates ODU Solar Project

Norfolk, Virginia-based Old Dominion University (ODU) is the recipient of the first solar roof installation in the Hampton Roads area. Dominion Virginia Power dedicated the solar project located on ODU’s Student Recreation Center. Last May, Dominion selected the university to be one of the first participants in the company’s Solar Partnership Program under which Dominion builds and operates solar facilities on leased rooftops.

“ODU is a good fit for this program as it continues to pave the way for alternative energy research at the university level in the Commonwealth,” said Ken Barker, vice president of Customer Solutions at Dominion. “This project will undoubtedly provide both community and educational benefits. Our new program allows us to integrate solar power into our diverse mix of resources to ensure reliable electricity. Solar energy will be a source of generation moving forward, and we hope to add 20 to 30 new solar installations over the next several years.”

odu-rooftop-aerial-photo1More than 600 solar panels were installed as part of the solar energy system. These panels will generate about 125 kilowatts of electricity during daylight hours, which is enough to supply the energy needs for an equivalent of 31 homes.

John R. Broderick, president of Old Dominion University said of the solar project, “With Dominion’s generous support over the years, our university’s development of solar technology and groundbreaking photovoltaic energy research has been recognized nationally. Thanks to more than $3 million in research grants from a variety of sources, including Dominion Virginia Power, Dr. Sylvain Marsillac and his team have been able to further this research by testing solar energy concepts on the rooftops of Kaufman Hall, the Student Recreation Center and more.”

The Solar Partnership Program was approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission in November 2012. PowerSecure, a North Carolina-based company with offices in Virginia, was chosen as the engineering, procurement and construction company to complete the project. Under the program, Dominion will construct and operate up to 30 megawatts of company-owned solar facilities on leased rooftops or on the grounds of commercial businesses and public properties throughout the company’s Virginia service area. When fully implemented, the program will generate enough electricity for up to 7,500 homes.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFAccording to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research “Biofuels Market: Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2013 – 2019,” biofuels production was 24,326.7 million gallons in 2012 and is expected to reach 50,921.4 million gallons by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 9.6% from 2013 to 2019.
  • Lightway Solar and its wholly-owned subsidiary Baoding Guangdong New Energy Company Limited, have announced that the company has signed a fifteen-year 70 million yuan (US $11.2 million) loan agreement with China Development Bank (CDB) Hebei Branch. The loan will be used for the first phase – a 9.645MW facility – of a distributed photovoltaic (PV) power station project in Baigou, Hebei province. This facility is being developed and built by Lightway Solar, and has been formally connected to the grid since July 1, 2014. When all phases of the project are completed, the facility will deliver 20MW. The project is based on a model where the power generated will be primarily consumed by local users and any unused electricity will be available for sale to other entities connected to the grid. The completed facility will be capable of delivering power to 3 million recipients connected to the grid.
  • Sonnenbatterie, Europe’s smart energy storage solution, has announced it is now open for business in North America with five new channel distribution partners throughout the United States. The Sonnenbatterie product range spans from 4.5 kWh residential units to commercial 20 kWh storage blocks, which can be connected to build units up to 200kWh in capacity. All Sonnenbatteries include integrated smart meter functionality with mobile energy monitoring and management.
  • Energy Upgrade California wants to know how Californians plan to save energy and water this summer and will reward those who make a pledge to help California Stay Golden with the chance to win prizes that can help save water and energy. The Stay Golden California sweepstakes is the latest effort to promote energy and water savings across the golden state. Californians can enter the sweepstakes by submitting their pledge describing how they will save water and energy during this hot and dry summer. Weekly prizes include solar backpacks, energy efficient Bluetooth speakers made from renewable materials, an energy efficient kit including an energy hub and smart plug, and a programmable thermostat. Complete rules and eligibility for the sweepstakes are available here.

Intersolar North America Awards Champion of Change

The first ever Champion of Change award was bestowed upon Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission during Intersolar North America taking place this week. The award was given in conjunction with the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) for Peevey’s outstanding commitment to supporting renewable energy at the national and international levels.

“For three yeTuesday, July 8ars, the Intersolar AWARD program has singled out landmark projects in North America that represent major technological, economical and environmental achievements,” said Markus Elsässer, CEO of Solar Promotion International, an organizer of Intersolar North America. “This year’s winners demonstrated how well designed systems that utilize the latest technologies to deliver cost-effective solar energy could benefit a variety of customer requirements. These projects, from off-grid applications to mid-sized systems to utility-scale installations, highlight solar energy’s versatility and show that the industry is well on its way toward maturation.”

The Intersolar AWARD winners for solar projects in North America were judged on pioneering character, uniqueness, economic benefits, benefits for the environment and society, degree of technical innovation and proof of innovation. An independent committee of industry experts chose three award winners:

  • First Solar won the award for its Agua Caliente Solar Project, a 290 MW project that is currently the largest fully operational PV power plant and covers 2,400 acres in Yuma County, Ariz. First Solar developed, engineered, constructed and operates the system, which was designed to minimize land disturbances and to maximize stability, reliability and cost-effectiveness. This project revolutionizes how solar integrates with the power grid.
  • Solaire Generation Inc. won the award with the Whole Foods Market Solar Carport. The 325-kilowatt installation is New York’s largest solar carport, and, in addition to generating enough energy to meet 20 percent of the store’s demand, the eye-catching project showcases how solar power can be integrated with other green initiatives such as rainwater harvesting and brownfield re-development. The carport has a capacity to recover 30,000 gallons of rainwater and is educating shoppers with its unique design of both the practical and aesthetic potential of solar.
  • Princeton Power System won the award with its distinctive Alcatraz Island Microgrid System. Created as a response to failures of conventional energy sources, Alcatraz is a pioneer in energy independence. Princeton Power Systems cooperated with the U.S. National Park Service and created a system that provides more than 80 percent of the island’s electricity needs for the one million visitors that come every year. The 400kW system creatively utilizes prison spaces, such as old generator rooms and rooftops, and integrates cutting-edge technologies without compromising the historic quality of the site and making the system invisible to the outside viewer.

“By expanding our AWARD program to honor individuals alongside technologies and key projects, we are highlighting the people and the ideas that drive the industry,” added Klaus Seilnacht, CEO of FMMI International GmbH, an organizer of Intersolar North America. “The solar industry needs advocates like Michael Peevey. We are excited to continue to recognize the people who have helped make North America one of the largest solar markets in the world.”

Battery Bat Houses for Hydroelectric Projects

Bat Houses from scrap volt battery casesEagle Scout Matthew Netherland has developed a creative way to help bats who live near hydroelectric projects. Using discarded scrap Volt battery covers donated by GM, Netherland built 22 bat houses for Consumers Energy to install in their energy properties.

“This project connects a lot of environmental dots,” said Rich Castle, Consumers Energy’s natural resource manager for hydro generation. “Hydro dams generate clean electricity, and cars that run on electricity are a cleaner form of transportation. The battery covers from the electric-powered vehicles are being kept out of landfills, and by being utilized as bat homes they allow biodiversity to thrive along the river habitats that produce renewable energy.”

About 100 or more bats can live in each bat box, which includes five chambers. Netherland, a friend and two adult mentors helped build the bat boxes in about two months that will be installed by Consumers Energy.

“I’m thankful that GM had the perfect shell for the bat box plans, and that Consumers Energy has great locations to place the boxes,” said Netherland from Boy Scout Troop 185 from Clarkston, Michigan. “Both companies have been great to work with, very encouraging and generous.”

Emily McDonald, environmental engineer for GM who coordinated with Netherland on his project, added, “I’m so impressed by Matthew’s energy and dedication to this project. We’ve worked with renowned bat experts on our bat house design and are grateful that we can partner with others who share our passion for conservation and will help us make a lasting impact. The Volt covers are made with durable material and will result in wildlife nesting opportunities for a long time.”

Cali Can Broaden Hydrogen Fueling Network

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have published a study that found a number of existing gas stations in California can safely store and dispense hydrogen. This, the researchers suggest, a broader network of hydrogen fueling stations may be within reach.

The report examined 70 commercial gasoline stations throughout California and sought to determine which, if any, could integrate hydrogen fuel, based on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) hydrogen technologies code published in 2011. The report found that 14 of the 70 gas stations considered in the study could readily accept hydrogen fuel and that 17 more possibly could accept hydrogen with property expansions. Sandia Daniel DedrickUnder previous NFPA code requirements from 2005, none of the existing gasoline stations could readily accept hydrogen. The current code, known as NFPA 2, provides fundamental safeguards for the generation, installation, storage, piping, use and handling of hydrogen in compressed gas or cryogenic (low temperature) liquid form.

Sandia Hydrogen Program Manager Daniel Dedrick said the development of meaningful, science-based fire codes and determinations such as those found in the report will help accelerate the deployment of hydrogen systems. “This work shows that we can reduce uncertainty and avoid overly conservative restrictions to commercial hydrogen fuel installations by focusing on scientific, risk-informed approaches. It turns out that the number of fueling stations able to carry hydrogen can be quantified.” Dedrick added, “We now know that we can build more hydrogen fueling stations if we examine the safety issues within a sound, technical framework that focuses on the real behaviors of hydrogen.”

Sandia’s hydrogen safety, codes and standards program is a diverse portfolio of activities funded by the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office to provide the technical basis for developing and revising safety codes and standards for hydrogen infrastructure, including the NFPA 2 code. This work is aligned with Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST), a new project established by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Maine Utilities Partner to Improve Grid

Emera Maine and Central Maine Power (CMP) have agreed to jointly develop electric transmission projects in Maine. The goal of all projects is to improve links between southern New England and northern Maine, where more than 2,100 megawatts of wind power development have been proposed. The agreement between the utilities comes in response to a call by the six New England governors for investments in the region’s energy infrastructure to diversify the energy portfolio and gain access to new renewable energy resources.

As the state’s two largest utilities, the companies serve more than 95 percent of Maine’s homes and businesses. The utilities have significant expertise with transmission projects, including the MEPCO transmission line that extends from central Maine to New Brunswick, Canada.

Transmission Project in MaineCentral Maine Power is the state’s largest utility serving 605,000 homes and businesses in the southern third of the state. The company is nearing completion of the Maine Power Reliability Program, a $1.4 billion investment in new transmission lines and substations to reinforce its 345,000 volt bulk power grid.

“Our Maine Power Reliability Program is the largest construction project ever in Maine, and one of New England’s largest transmission projects,” said Sara Burns, president and CEO of Central Maine Power. “It’s a vast and complex undertaking, but four years into construction, the project is on time and on budget.”

Emera Maine serves approximately 154,000 homes and businesses in eastern and northern Maine. Significant transmission projects completed by Emera Maine include the 43-mile, 115,000 volt Downeast Reliability Project, and the 85-mile, 345,000 volt Northeast Reliability Interconnect in 2007.

“Electric transmission can be a significant challenge to new low/no emitting generation sources seeking to enter our New England market”, said Gerard Chasse, president and COO of Emera Maine. “That’s a challenge that our companies have been working together on for some time, particularly in Northern Maine. With this MOU we are renewing and expanding these efforts to identify and develop creative and cost effective transmission solutions to benefit the State and the region.”

The partners have outlined two initial phases of work. Phase One will analyze the feasibility of each project, including technical feasibility, public policy, regulatory considerations, and outreach to other potential parties to the project. Phase Two will include all development activities from design, engineering, siting, through construction bidding.