Eight years ago, Central Maine Power (CMP), Maine’s largest T&D utility, proposed the Maine Power Reliability Program (MPRP)—a comprehensive plan to upgrade transmission resources ensure reliable service to its customers throughout its service territory. As part of an agreement reached in that docket, a Non-Transmission Alternative (NTA) pilot project in Boothbay Harbor was implemented. Grid Solar was selected as the coordinator for the pilot project, which went live in 2013.
In theory, the NTA concept is simple. Rather than invest in a higher cost, new transmission line to meet peak demand on certain days throughout the year, it may be possible to combine other less expensive resources—energy efficiency, demand response, and distributed generation—to reduce load at peak times and ensure reliability without constructing a new transmission line. To succeed, NTAs must be able to reduce load at specific peak times when load reduction is needed. Otherwise, the resources will not provide the necessary reliability benefit to displace a new transmission project.
In January, Grid Solar filed its final report on the Boothbay Pilot with the Public Utilities Commission (Docket No. 2011-00138). A hearing at the Commission on the status of the Boothbay Pilot Project is scheduled for May 5. After the hearing, the Commission will decide whether the pilot has been a success so far and whether the pilot should be continued.
In other NTA news, during the Commission’s March 29, 2016 deliberations, the Commission decided to open a new docket (No. 2016-00049) to investigate whether there is a need for an NTA Coordinator in Maine, and if so, what that position may entail.