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Thread: N.E. Clean Power Connect in Maine - Should we care ?

  1. #31
    Senior Member injektilo's Avatar
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  2. #32
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    Looks like the opposition to the project is rising https://www.pressherald.com/2019/06/...smission-line/

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    Is the same legal firm representing them? Sounds eerily familiar

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    On Friday, I sat on the top of Speckled Mountain in Peru, ME thinking about this discussion. From that vantage point, I could see 5 wind farms and a significant power line right of way, in the foreground, running south of Rumford. The wind farms populate the ridgelines while the power lines tend to run in the valleys. I have to say, the wind farms are more offensive to my view than the power lines.

    In New England, we are far away from being able to rely on renewable energy as our sole power source. I have been watching the ISO New England fuel mix for the last week or so, the % of renewable power only represents about 10%, on average, of the sources used to generate electricity in New England. Further, of the generation sources considered to be renewable, we are burning refuse & wood to generate 50% - 75% of that segment. Hydro power has represented about 10% on average of the energy sources for New England over the last week. Nuclear & natural gas each represent 40% of the fuel mix (on average) I believe that we need to bring hydro power from Quebec if we want to make a short term impact and reduce the fuel sources that are creating greenhouse gasses.
    You can see the ISO New England current generation sources here: https://www.iso-ne.com/isoexpress/we..._p_col_count=5

    Take a look at satellite images of the Maine forest; pristine is not a word that I would use to describe the forest as a whole-it is a working forest. To complain about an additional power line right of way seems short sighted to me. Someday, we may be able to rely on solar & wind generation, but not without good battery storage solutions and a whole lot of conservation/efficiency improvements. For the near term, New England needs power sources that do not emit greenhouse gasses.

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    The problem is as currently configured the project is more sleight of hand fossil then it is hydro. It depends where you draw the boundaries. If you draw the boundary at the Mass border, then yes the CPC (as well as NP) was displacing fossil in Mass and filling in the void from Pilgrim. Now expand the boundary and include Quebec and what is coming over the line is not necessarily new "clean hydro", its actually existing hydro that is being rerouted from other HQ customers and fossil generation. In the HQ system there is fossil generation including some underutilized large gas fired power plants.There is no prohibition in the current proposed contract from HQ firing up gas fired generation to service HQ customers to free up existing hydro to sell to New England at a premium. When HQ had been asked to modify the contract to assure that the game of "three card monte" is not used they claim they can not support that concept. Right now its a "Not in my State" project while the world needs a Not in this World project, moving carbon around the world is no solution to a global crisis.

    Turn it into a true auditable renewable source of generation and I expect there may be more support. Bury it along existing right of ways and I expect even more support but as the prior articles point out the project becomes non economic. Non economic implies that there are other sources of renewable that would cost less so it comes down to HQ tried and apparently failed to put a cheap high impact project through a economically distressed area in NH so they went to the the neighboring economically distressed region in the state to the East. The Lake Champlain project in VT has permits in hand for similar capacity and has designed a far lower impact project with far more long term benefits to the state of VT, why isnt HQ jumping on that bandwagon?. The reason is they make more money with captive lower cost line in NH and ME.

    I do agree Maine and NH have been trashed by the need for power in southern NE. Those windmills you see are all selling to predominately southern New England users. The PNGTS gas line that runs across Northern NH through Maine supplies predominately southern new england utilities. In my opinion its about time that Maine pushes back on a foreign corporation paying a relative pittance to the host state where all the benefits are going to Mass and Connecticut. Note there have been similar ponded storage hydros proposed in Maine in the past on the Saint John River (Dickey Lincoln), that project was shut down due to environmental impact. Just because Quebec is willing to trash their environment and native cultures lands does not mean New England should accept it. Mass, CT, VT all deemed HQ power as "brown" long ago not allowing it to be counted as "green" and the only thing that has changed is the political winds have shifted even though the dams are still causing significant environmental impact to a strip of land roughly the height of Mass starting at the Mass/NY border and ending in Eastern Maine at the New Brunswick border. Vt deemed HQ power green with the specter of VT Yankee going down and now the two biggest utilities in the state are shells owned by Canadian utilities.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 06-09-2019 at 05:14 PM.

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    Senior Member Jazzbo's Avatar
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    Lost Dad I agree 100% with your observations on Industrial Wind Power impacts versus long distance power export from HQ. When PB started this thread and someone posted link to satellite imagery it was obvious proposed route is through industrial forest land. Visual impact due to industrial wind farms is far more impact than the small area impacted by the CPC. Maine has sacrificed itself to benefit Renewable Energy for MA and CT. IMO CPC through Maine is lesser of two evils. PB is also correct in HQ power is not really "renewable" or green and comes at high price cultural and otherwise. Inconvenient truth is renewable is unfortunately a myth promoted by liberals. Speaking as engineer who has thought about this I think it is myth. The real elephant in room is earth has reached unsustainable population levels and how many humans can inhabit it. Any solution doesn't involve population control will not result in solution to problem. Sorry if this thread is not related to reason for being of VFTT.
    Last edited by Jazzbo; 06-09-2019 at 06:51 PM.
    On #67 of NE67
    On #98 of NEHH
    On #45 of WNH48

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    If you want an analysis. here you go https://bangordailynews.com/2019/06/...electric-line/

    Unfortunately it doesn't resolve the net greenhouse gas issue as well as it does the economics. Spilling water over a dam is anathema to a hydro operator but good for a river ecosystem although the presence of dams in general on a river effectively permanently disables it. It also does not even mention the significant methane gas release from the boreal forests due to the larger impoundments and varying water levels.

    The "over investment" in the HQ system has been subject of pushback in Quebec province. HQ is very large economic entity in Quebec owned by the province yet so large that it has major political power. It makes or breaks politicians and how it gets bigger is build generation. HQ ratepayers expect rock bottom rates and HQ has supplied them by using exports to subsidize the local ratepayers. Power has been so cheap in the province that its the primary source of heat in many areas. The ratepayers are unwilling to fund expansion of generation so they have effectively told HQ that if HQ wants to expand they had to get someone else to pay for it. The ratepayers of New England are the path forward for HQ as New England has legislated the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative REGI which makes it attractive to export the environmental impact of large scale renewable projects outside the region now that the "easy local carbon reductions" have been made.

    One of the technical problems with hooking a large part of New England's power needs to generation 1000 miles away is national reliability standards for power systems discourage remote generation as it potentially has high human and natural potential for interruption. The ice storm of 1998 shut down the HQ transmission system for months running into years and the method used to get back on line was very controversial where all permitting was suspended and HQ was allowed to run new lines where and when they wanted to regardless of environmental and property owner rights. There have also been province wide blackouts due to induced voltages in the transmission lines from sun spots. And of course a couple of morons with a firearm shooting at insulators knocked out the existing HQ line through NH for several days several years ago. Reliability standards require that local standby generation is available to back up these long lines and do to limits with the gas grid, that backup generation is generally oil fired simple cycle gas turbines spread all over New England. There is further long term concern that New England has lost the ability to generate its own power, as it gets more dependent on HQ, HQ gains an upper hand in future negotiations.

    Ultimately this is a massive economic project with winners and losers that is clothed in "green". If New England wants to go green, its far better spending money locally. Spend the money on offshore wind, grid batteries and demand response down to the consumer level. An old regional electric utility tag line "when you flip a switch, its there" has a lot of environmental costs as that peak generation is expensive and dirty. Far better to limit peaks by pushing voluntary power demand to off peak periods using rate incentives/penalties and grid batteries located locally. Mass is going to be implementing "clean peak" incentives to encourage the combination of renewable and storage to deal with peak power demands without cranking up the peakers and oil fired generation.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 06-10-2019 at 06:36 AM.

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    Jazzbo is correct IMO regarding population issue as being the real limiting variable and I’ve said that here before. The earth simply cannot handle the population growth, and all the conservation efforts barely scratch the surface in terms of their long term collective impact. I think we all hope that some ground breaking technology will make truly renewable energy abundant, cheap and without significant environmental impact, but I don’t see the physics in that currently.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NHClimber View Post
    I think we all hope that some ground breaking technology will make truly renewable energy abundant, cheap and without significant environmental impact, but I don’t see the physics in that currently.
    Remember there are at least a couple political factions in "green" leadership.

    There is a large faction that genuinely would like to see a real energy solution, but they shoot themselves in the foot by ruling out nuclear. The reality today is that today, you cannot supply abundant reliable energy without using nuclear. The other technologies are still "pie in the sky." We have to work hard to develop those other technologies (wind, solar, tides, fusion, whatever) and in 50-100 years they may be ready. But political leaders trying to force in "progress" when the technology is not ready will continue to create one disaster after another.

    There is also a faction that is simply anti-development of any kind, and are unalterably opposed to anything that works. If you developed the "magic power source" tomorrow, they would be opposed to it. Examples:

    "The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are." -
    Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund

    "No matter if the science of global warming is all phony… Climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world." - Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of the Environment

    You have to pay close attention to sort out the messaging that drives things like these difficult power line projects. I would actually love to see the "magic power source" be developed, because it would strip away a lot of cover and make it easier to see real motivations like "public good" and "environmental benefit", and also real motivations like "personal wealth" and "political power."

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    PB, thank you for the enlightenment-I was not aware that HQ would be supplementing power sold to the US with gas fired generation for use locally. In fact, as it is impossible to track where each electron is generated, we would be buying whatever mix HQ is generating at the time. For years I have been impressed by the ability of the local utilities to sell "Green Power" at an increased rate as there is no way to control that anyone is actually getting green power unless you generate yourself. I have always thought that storage, distributed generation, microgrids and demand pricing will all be important parts of a long term solution. However, without education, people will always have the expectation that the power is always on. BTW, I applaud the decision made by Pacific Gas & Electric to simply close down portions of the power grid when high fire conditions exist-PGE was blamed for some of last summers fires in CA and shutting down the power grid could reduce the future potential for fires (and reduce their potential liabilities). I believe that the PGE situation will go a long way in teaching the US consumers that "always on" is a luxury

    Further drift thread warning......there is early research showing that properly treated milk proteins can be used for super capacitors (useful for storage of quick bursts of higher energy) Battery storage will be a large part of any wordwide energy solution; both grid scale storage and distributed storage will be important going forward. If we were able to use milk proteins as a base for future batteries, then we could be faced with the environmental costs of farming (methane, etc) which is domestic vs mining of lithium which is beyond the US borders. On & on & on.

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    Remember there are at least a couple political factions in "green" leadership.

    There is a large faction that genuinely would like to see a real energy solution, but they shoot themselves in the foot by ruling out nuclear. The reality today is that today, you cannot supply abundant reliable energy without using nuclear. The other technologies are still "pie in the sky." We have to work hard to develop those other technologies (wind, solar, tides, fusion, whatever) and in 50-100 years they may be ready. But political leaders trying to force in "progress" when the technology is not ready will continue to create one disaster after another.

    There is also a faction that is simply anti-development of any kind, and are unalterably opposed to anything that works. If you developed the "magic power source" tomorrow, they would be opposed to it. Examples:

    "The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are." -
    Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund

    "No matter if the science of global warming is all phony… Climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world." - Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of the Environment

    You have to pay close attention to sort out the messaging that drives things like these difficult power line projects. I would actually love to see the "magic power source" be developed, because it would strip away a lot of cover and make it easier to see real motivations like "public good" and "environmental benefit", and also real motivations like "personal wealth" and "political power."
    Certainly agree that nuclear will have to be part of the solution (if not most of it). But politically it has been dead for decades, with resources being dedicated to inferior technology. Bill Gates and many other high profile tech types are heavily invested in a number of small companies that are developing next generation nuclear technologies. It's a shame that politics gets in the way of technological development.

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    [THREAD DRIFT]

    Quote Originally Posted by NHClimber View Post
    Certainly agree that nuclear will have to be part of the solution (if not most of it). But politically it has been dead for decades, with resources being dedicated to inferior technology. Bill Gates and many other high profile tech types are heavily invested in a number of small companies that are developing next generation nuclear technologies. It's a shame that politics gets in the way of technological development.
    RE: Nuclear Power

    At this point, it is economics and lack of skilled workers that is holding back nuclear power, not politics. The Vogtle cost overruns have been related to poor construction oversight. https://www.powermag.com/how-the-vog...sts-escalated/

    The only politics I see in the Nuclear equation is the debate over what constitutes Low-Level Waste and how to safely dispose of it. Like many issues these days, both sides of the low-level waste issue claim to have the science/facts on their side.

    [/THREAD DRIFT]

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    CONTINUED THREAD DRIFT

    This technology looks promising https://www.powermag.com/a-thorium-m...-it/?pagenum=1, the US did al the research but abandoned it as the goal of civilian nuke plants was to make hazardous waste that was a feed to make bombs). This process yield far less waste since its more efficient. Also self regulating and easy to shut down.
    Thorium is readily available and going with a factory approach to construction cut costs quite a bit. Repower three or four old nuke sites and new england goes carbon free.

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