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Joint Use Order
Make the Utilities Share the Sandbox
The question of pushing this new transmission line back into existing corridors keeps resurfacing, and justifiably so. Maine already has several transmission line corridors, so why not use one of them?
I wrote a previous article on the existing corridor issues according to LS Power, but the more we learn, the more we realize that there are alternatives to the published routes. One of the statements made frequently is that there’s no room in the existing easements for another 345kV line. There are engineering ways around this - ranging from adding height to the existing lines, or changing this project from HVAC to HVDC and pushing it underground.
Once LS Power becomes recognized as a utility in Maine - when the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) issues the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) - one of the actions available to the MPUC is to force competing utilities to play in the same sandbox. Certainly, sharing utility easements would also require some revenue sharing among the utilities, which may not be ideal for them, and may be why LS Power is looking to run their own line in their own easements in our own back yards.
But don’t forget - in addition to the corridors that already exist, there’s also a corridor that has most, if not all, of the easement required to run a 345kV line from Chester to Pittsfield. That project has not been built yet, and the easement rights are owned by MEPCO. Since MEPCO isn’t using their easement, maybe it should be given to LS Power.
Utility companies in Maine already own quite a few sandboxes. We need to encourage the MPUC to make all the utility companies play nicely in them together.
Building new aerial transmission lines along a new corridor may be the least expensive option, but is it the right long term option for Maine?
Read the Maine statute for yourself here: https://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/35-A/title35-Asec711.html
If you’re curious, you can see transmission lines and existing power generation plants on this map - https://atlas.eia.gov/apps/eia::electricity/explore
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