I’ve been engaged in economic development in Lewiston, Maine, since 2000. In that capacity, I’ve worked closely with Central Maine Power, which became an Avangrid company in 2016. I’ve been reading the New Mexico media because of my love of Northern New Mexico and have seen the articles regarding the proposed PNM-Avangrid merger.
Much of the concerns raised in New Mexico are similar ones Maine residents raised in 2015. What I can tell you, having lived through it and now with it, is Avangrid is a great company and fulfills its promises.
Central Maine Power has been a reliable and forward-thinking partner in making needed electrical system upgrades in Lewiston, both before and after Avangrid’s ownership. Avangrid’s vision, leadership and financial strength have made CMP better. Some examples:
- When Walmart wanted to build a 900,000-square-foot distribution center in a business park with insufficient power, Central Maine Power built a substation to meet Walmart’s needs, and partnered with the city of Lewiston to double the capacity of the substation to meet future commercial development in that area of the city.
- The Lewiston downtown electric grid, which supports two hospitals, a regional bakery and an operations center for the eighth-largest bank in the U.S., was starting to reach capacity and have outages. Central Maine Power worked with the city of Lewiston to develop a substation nearby that significantly increased capacity, safety, reliability and redundancy.
- A big concern of Lewiston residents was having high-voltage lines over the heart of downtown. Central Maine Power listened and worked with us to minimize visual impacts.
- Like many smaller markets, our downtown desperately needed upgrades to its infrastructure. Central Maine Power helped us navigate that process, which ultimately became the Maine Power Reliability Project. That project substantially improved the capacity, safety, reliability and redundancy of the regional grid. The best part was that 93 percent of project costs were paid by ISO New England (the regional operator) rather than Maine ratepayers.
- Central Maine Power increased the height and configuration of its poles along the transmission corridor where residents were concerned about EMF radiation. Company officials worked with the city of Lewiston to use Tax Increment Financing revenues to pay the cost of the pole upgrades that were above what was originally proposed.
- Central Maine Power came to the city of Lewiston early in the process when responding to a major clean energy request for proposal issued by the state of Massachusetts. The proposed plan involved having a DC to AC converter station in Lewiston, to build upon the infrastructure already built in the city with the power reliability project. Central Maine Power came to us to request support. We gladly offered it, and we continue to do so today.
As someone who has lived through the transition of our power company to becoming an Avangrid company, what I can tell you is that Central Maine Power has always delivered on promises to the city of Lewiston and our residents, both before and after becoming an Avangrid company. Company officials have listened to concerns raised by both the city staff and the public, and have always been responsive to the concerns and creative in finding workable solutions.
If the merger goes through, I believe New Mexico will discover that Avangrid is a great community asset and partner.