CMP: Moving Solar Forward in Maine
Company develops tools, improves communications to move solar projects forward
Augusta—May 6, 2022 — International and national developers of solar energy projects (1-4.9 MW), have applied to connect more than 700 projects to the Maine electrical grid since 2019 within the service territory of Central Maine Power (CMP). Prior to that, the company had received a total of six applications. The roughly 500 projects actively in the queue to connect to the grid would add 1820 MW of solar energy – or more renewable energy generated by projects of this size than was connected across the entire country in 2020.
CMP and project developers in the state have made demonstrable progress in moving projects forward toward commercial operation. The company and the developers continue to work together to address the challenges presented by interconnecting hundreds of projects at once, introducing new tools to streamline the application and study process, build in accountability and broadly share updates and news.
“Maine’s solar development incentives, introduced in 2019, have pushed hundreds of projects forward across the state and will enable Maine to benefit from more renewable energy on the grid,” said Joseph Purington, president and CEO of CMP. “Our job is to redesign the grid built over the last century to make sure we can connect these projects safely and with no disruptions. The concerns about reliability impacts on the grid from intermittent renewable power sources – sun and wind – are real and must be addressed so we can all benefit from renewables as we move away from fossil fuels and electrify our transportation and heating sources.”
CMP has developed a new capacity hosting map to show developers interested in building new solar projects how much capacity is available on various circuits on the CMP grid. Circuits with less available capacity will potentially require more developer investment in mitigating circuit faults from new projects than those circuits with more available capacity. CMP cannot direct solar developers where to site projects but having capacity details will provide them more intelligence on the most cost effective areas to develop their projects.
Workshops and Webinars
CMP hosts regular webinars for solar developers to update them and respond to process or development questions. For example, solar projects require a series of studies depending upon where, on the grid, they choose to connect. If several projects want to connect near each other, there could be reliability and safety implications for nearby CMP substations that would require upgrading the facilities. Projects may also be impacted by larger energy generation projects regulated by the regional grid operator, ISO-New England. The webinars are an efficient opportunity for developers to ask questions and share concerns with CMP.
CMP hosted a workshop for all developers and other stakeholders this week to address project cost expectations. The estimated project costs on the construction needed to interconnect projects to the grid have fluctuated over the past two years with rising inflation and unpredictable supply of materials and labor.
“In this unpredictable and fluid construction environment, with hundreds of projects in front of us, CMP is committed to using every tool and resource we have to ensure our employees and contractors are providing responsive and accurate information to solar developers so they can get their projects completed,” Purington said. “In-house, we have a very focused audit and compliance area that oversees all purchasing and invoicing to ensure responsible and accountable pricing.”
As a result of a regulatory settlement early this year, CMP is investing $700,000 over the next two years to fund ongoing workshops and meetings to more efficiently address and share emerging grid solutions and any new challenges.
“The pace of Maine’s renewables development is truly unmatched,” Purington observed. “It’s like adding two nuclear plants the size of Maine Yankee but adding them in 500 different places. As renewables stakeholders, we all need to continue to work together to move Maine safely forward in our transition away from fossil fuels, while ensuring reliable power.”
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About CMP: Central Maine Power Company (CMP), a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc., is Maine’s largest electricity transmission and distribution utility. Established in 1899 and based in Augusta, Maine, CMP serves approximately 646,000 customers across 346 communities in central and southern Maine. It operates approximately 23,500 miles of distribution lines and 2,900 miles of transmission lines. Over the last decade, the company has invested approximately $3.5 billion in Maine system infrastructure.
About AVANGRID: AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) aspires to be the leading sustainable energy company in the United States. Headquartered in Orange, CT with approximately $40 billion in assets and operations in 24 U.S. states, AVANGRID has two primary lines of business: Avangrid Networks and Avangrid Renewables. Avangrid Networks owns and operates eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving more than 3.3 million customers in New York and New England. Avangrid Renewables owns and operates a portfolio of renewable energy generation facilities across the United States. AVANGRID employs approximately 7,000 people and has been recognized by JUST Capital in 2021 and 2022 as one of the JUST 100 companies – a ranking of America’s best corporate citizens. In 2022, AVANGRID ranked second within the utility sector for its commitment to the environment and the communities it serves. The company supports the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and was named among the World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2022 for the fourth consecutive year by the Ethisphere Institute. For more information, visit avangrid.com.
Central Maine Power