Quebec wants to sell more of its enormous amounts of hydropower to the Northeast U.S., which wants more renewable energy. The problem is that the electricity has to get from there to here and nobody wants big, ugly power lines near them – “near” being defined as anything you might see on a clear day if you stand on the highest local hilltop.
New Hampshire rejected a gigawatt line because a portion cut through some pristine woodlands. Maine seemed to accept an alternative but last-minute opposition of the perfect-is-the-enemy-of-good variety might block it with a statewide ballot initiative. Both states also fretted that Massachusetts was benefiting from the lines, as if we weren’t all in the same power grid and as if we don’t benefit from natural-gas pipelines that run through Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, owners of gas-fired power plants are delighted.
Now New York has just said yes to a very similar project, called the Champlain Hudson Power Express, carrying 1,200 megawatts down from Quebec to NYC. We’ll see if it actually happens.
New England line opponents might say that the New York proposal is different because much of it will run underwater (Lake Champlain and the Hudson River) instead of requiring trees to be cut down. But I’m sure the New England opponents would have freaked out if the lines had been proposed under Moosehead Lake or the Connecticut River.
Maybe HydroQuebec should charge up big batteries and truck them over the border, carrying electricity like perishable goods. The Japanese are building a ship to do just that: Carry electricity to land from an offshore wind farm!