Massachusetts has decided to buy a share of ambitious multibillion-dollar wind and transmission projects in northern Maine after officials determined they would benefit that state’s residents.

That decision is crucial to advance two projects selected in November by the Maine Public Utilities Commission for the Northern Maine Renewable Energy Development Program. The program, a product of a 2021 state law, is intended to remove obstacles to and promote the development of renewable energy resources in northern Maine.

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and Attorney General’s Office determined Friday that Longroad Energy’s King Pine wind generation project and a transmission project by LS Power would provide cost-effective clean energy to electric ratepayers in Massachusetts and the region, contribute to the state’s decarbonization goals, and reduce ratepayer costs and improve energy security during winter months.

Those agencies signed a memorandum of understanding last October with the Maine Public Utilities Commission, outlining terms by which the Bay State will consider the northern Maine energy proposals. The terms are based on requirements in a recently passed clean energy law in Massachusetts.

“Longroad appreciates the selection of King Pine Wind as a cost-effective, clean energy option under the policies established through the leadership of the legislature and Baker-Polito Administration,” the company said in a statement. “Coordination between states is critical to the Commonwealth achieving its climate goals – and those of the region as a whole – in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. As a recent study showed, by working together on this initiative, Maine and Massachusetts can deliver significant economic and climate benefits for both states through leveraging the substantial wind resource in Aroostook County.”

The Maine PUC must still determine whether the costs to Maine electric customers are “reasonable and in the public interest,” and if a partnership with Massachusetts could offset the costs. Commissioners have asked the agency’s staff to complete a report on the regional partnership’s potential by Jan. 15.


Massachusetts will direct its electric distribution companies to enter into long-term contracts for up to 40% of the transmission project’s transmission service payments for 20 years or less. If the projects don’t have sufficient contracting commitments to support project viability by Feb. 28, the determination will terminate.

The proposed King Pine wind farm, with 179 wind turbines, would be the largest onshore wind project east of the Mississippi River. Rated at 1,000 megawatts and expected to produce 3.18 billion kilowatt-hours a year, the $2 billion project could generate enough electricity to power 450,000 typical homes when running full tilt. It would be built by renewable power developer Longroad Energy of Boston.

Power would flow over a new transmission line running more than 100 miles from southern Aroostook County to Pittsfield. Designed to carry up to 1,200 megawatts, the line would be built by the New York-based energy infrastructure developer LS Power.

Crucial details have yet to be decided, such as the precise route of the corridor, how wide it would be and its potential impact on land that’s important for ecology and recreation uses.

The wind farm and transmission line were selected in November by the Maine PUC, which spent months scrutinizing competing proposals that sought to satisfy the law’s criteria, including cost to taxpayers, economic benefits to northern Maine and contribution to the state’s climate goals.

The combination of these two projects will help lower wholesale electricity prices in Maine and New England, the commission determined, and save Mainers $1.08 billion over 20 years, based on contract payments minus estimates of future energy costs.

Both projects would need to be approved in Maine and Massachusetts. If that happens, each will face regular reviews in Maine from state and federal agencies that include winning a certificate of public convenience from the PUC, land-use permits from the Department of Environmental Protection and approvals from ISO-New England and federal agencies.

Legislative approval also is needed, a requirement put in place by referendum last year for projects that meet the definition of high-voltage transmission line.

Those requirements and other hurdles will push the proposed operations date to 2028, according to estimates from LS Power.

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