Former State Planning Director Richard Barringer, writing in support of the proposal to bring Canadian hydropower through Maine to Massachusetts (Maine Voices, March 15), is insightful when he says that “no state is an island,” and that “we are in this existential crisis together.” But he does not answer the question of whether this transmission project will have a net benefit in combating climate change.
I am also puzzled by his statement that “there will be no decarbonization of Maine’s energy system without further hydropower … our wind and solar potential is insufficient.” Does he really believe that we cannot generate the requisite megawatts of solar and wind energy in the coming decades? (A megawatt will satisfy the electrical needs of approximately 200 homes.)
Maine is rapidly increasing its solar capacity. A single solar developer, NextEra, has approximately 165 megawatts in the works (in Farmington, Clinton, Sanford and Fairfield), and other companies are proposing major installations, many appropriately sited on expired landfills and abandoned gravel pits. Additionally, there are thousands of rooftops, residential and commercial, which, with new incentives from the Legislature, promise generation in the hundreds of megawatts.
Wind’s contribution to our energy mix will skyrocket provided that we support the University of Maine’s effort to harness the energy of offshore wind. A single 64-turbine wind farm, operating at a projected 42 percent efficiency, will generate in excess of 200 megawatts.
From all these sources, there can be no doubt that Maine can generate 100 percent of its energy by 2040 without resorting to either fossil fuels or additional hydropower. Provided that we adopt strategies to effectively utilize this energy (think heat pumps and electric vehicles), we can reduce our net greenhouse-gas emissions 100 percent by 2050, rather than the 80 percent reduction proposed by some legislators.