Some of the 44 wind turbines in the Kibby Wind Power Project in Franklin County. A wind power project in Aroostook County will connect it with the New England power grid for the first time. Sun Journal file photo

Plans for a major renewable energy project that would connect Aroostook County to New England’s electric power grid are inching forward.

Last week, legislators and Gov. Janet Mills signed off on a bill for construction of a high-voltage transmission line that would bring wind-generated electricity from northern Maine to the grid, while potentially creating hundreds of jobs and business opportunities in the state’s northernmost county.

But the state’s approval is just the first step of what is expected to be a years-long process requiring permits from multiple regulatory agencies.

Aroostook County lacks a connection to New England’s electric grid, and building a large new transmission line to unlock northern Maine’s robust wind power resources has historically been too expensive.

But the Aroostook Renewable Gateway Project, built by LS Power Grid Maine, would change that. The planned transmission line is designed to carry up to 1,200 megawatts and would extend up to 160 miles from southern Aroostook County to Pittsfield.

The line would connect two new substations, one near Glenwood Plantation and another near either Dixmont or Detroit, the company said. An additional station would be built near the existing Coopers Mills substation for additional voltage control equipment. 


The project will, according to the company, “create hundreds of construction jobs, provide tens of millions of dollars in new tax base to host communities, deliver fixed price renewable energy from Aroostook County to provide power to Maine homes and businesses, and enhance transmission grid reliability.”

The precise route of the corridor, its width and its potential environmental impact have not yet been made public. However, Doug Mulvey, vice president of LS Power Development, said the company plans to publish several potential routes in the coming days.


The transmission line is one half of two related projects. The proposed King Pine wind farm, built by renewable power developer Longroad Energy of Boston, would be located west of Houlton and comprise 179 wind turbines, making it 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 at full tilt.

Maine utilities would buy 60% of the output from the planned wind farm, while Massachusetts would pay 40% of the project costs.


The Maine Public Utilities Commission estimated the construction for the two projects could cost ratepayers $1 billion for the 60% share of the electricity output, adding $1 a month to a typical residential electric bill for 10 years. Mulvey, however, said an LS Power study that the company plans to release soon actually shows savings – not extra costs. 

Even with the additional $1, the commission said the cost would be offset by the projects’ economic and environmental upside. 

The combination of these two projects is also projected to help lower wholesale electricity prices in Maine and New England, and ultimately save Mainers $1.08 billion over 20 years, based on contract payments minus estimates of future energy costs.

“Home-grown” renewable power that is cheap, reliable and will generate jobs can only be a boon for the state, said Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash.

The actual kilowatt-hour cost of electricity from the projects has not yet been made public, though Jackson said Monday that it could be as low as 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Currently, the standard offer rate for Central Maine Power Co. is 17.6 cents per kilowatt hour. 

We have almost every assurance that this is going to be cheaper,” he said. 


Maine’s share of the power would be purchased by either Central Maine Power or Versant Power, or both. By law, neither company supplies or generates electricity.

The Maine Legislature established the Northern Maine Renewable Energy Development Program in 2021 to help achieve the state’s ambitious clean energy goals of 100% renewable energy by 2030. The law tasked the Maine Public Utilities Commission with connecting more renewable power sources with ISO-New England, which operates the power grid across six states, including Maine. 

These projects could help open the door to more clean energy in northern Maine.

There are three major wind farm projects that have been sited for the region, Jackson said, but none of them could be built because there’s no local transmission.

“I think it opens up all kinds of possibilities,” he said.

With legislative approval out of the way, LS Power is beginning community and landowner outreach, with the first of six in-person informational meetings starting July 11 in Mattawamkeag. Other meetings are scheduled in Howland, Bradford, Etna, Albion and Windsor. A virtual meeting also is planned but has not yet been scheduled.

The open-house-style meetings will include maps detailing six to eight proposed line locations, Mulvey said, after which the feedback will be analyzed to pick a location. Then the company will submit its application to the Public Utilities Commission for approval, which would probably come sometime next year.

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