Monday, February 18, 2019

FERC OKs Discounted Tx for Maine Biomass Plants

FERC on Thursday approved Emera Maine’s proposal to provide discounted transmission service to two ReEnergy biomass plants in northern Maine (ER18-2123, ER18-2124).

The commission’s Sept. 27 order also found that a protest from Maine Gov. Paul LePage lay outside its jurisdiction. LePage alleged that Emera would recover the cost of the discounts from the state’s retail customers, but FERC said retail rates are regulated by the Maine Public Utilities Commission. “Our findings here are limited to whether Emera Maine’s proposed commission-jurisdictional wholesale rates are just and reasonable,” FERC said.

ReEnergy employee leads tour of Fort Fairfield biomass generator. | Biomass Power Association

ReEnergy owns a 39-MW biomass-fueled power plant in Ashland and a 37-MW biomass plant in Fort Fairfield. Both facilities have market-based rates and are allowed to sell their output into ISO-NE’s energy, capacity and ancillary services markets.

Under the agreements, Emera will provide non-firm transmission service from the two ReEnergy facilities to ISO-NE for $0/MW-month for Oct. 1, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2019, and $1,132/MW-month for Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

ReEnergy said the discounts were needed to remain in business because of the pancaked transmission charges they pay to move energy to the ISO-NE market.

Emera would provide service to the plants through the Maine Public District transmission system, which is not directly interconnected with any portion of the U.S. transmission grid. Entities interconnected with it can only access the New England grid over transmission facilities in New Brunswick, Canada, which NB Power owns and operates.

Emera said it agreed to the discounts because ReEnergy provides jobs in northern Maine.

— Michael Kuser