Maryland, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and New Brunswick push back against Quebec plan to export power to Canada

Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) By Ralph Ellis and Michael Phoenix , Fox News British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and the cities of Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia…

Maryland, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and New Brunswick push back against Quebec plan to export power to Canada

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By Ralph Ellis and Michael Phoenix , Fox News

British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and the cities of Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have opted out of plans to export power to other provinces under new rules from Hydro-Québec.

In addition, all six states have expressed an interest in reviewing the plans. New York and Vermont have successfully secured waivers from the rules.

But the issue has come to a head in Maine where voters go to the polls Tuesday in a referendum on whether to allow Gov. Paul LePage’s administration to approve a plan that would allow the province to export up to 7,500 megawatts of power from its hydroelectric dams to Canadian utilities.

Gov. LePage’s energy plans for Maine call for the state to be independent of power imports through hydropower. The plan would set Maine up to export power from its four Canadian hydro dams that produce a total of about 1,400 megawatts of electricity.

Vermont and the city of Montreal first raised concerns about the plan, warning that less efficient local power plants could be crowded out by the exports.

Both Colorado and New Mexico rejected the plans, but Vermont followed suit and fought its case in federal court.

The New York Senate voted to block New York’s bill, but the Assembly concurred. The Colorado House also passed the state’s bill. The Utah House is considering its version of the bill, but a hearing has not been scheduled.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard told reporters Friday that Montreal and other provinces and municipalities “have to say what kind of relationship, what kind of partnership we want.”

After Maine voted to oppose the plan in a special non-binding question, Hydro-Québec issued a statement calling the vote a “vote of no confidence in Hydro-Québec’s joint planning process and a cancellation of Hydro-Québec’s commitments.”

On Friday, B.C. Premier John Horgan told reporters that the situation “was overwhelming” for his province. It warned that the province risks losing its power to other parts of the province, so it will now consider the impact on electricity rates.

Hydro-Québec has six annual reviews of its plans, including six public consultations. The company will make changes depending on public response.

Canadian Energy Minister Amarjeet Sohi has promised to defend Hydro-Québec’s plans.

LePage told Fox News’ Ashley Killough this week that he is “glad [Hydro-Québec] allowed us to share in all of that power coming into our state.”

Maine is one of the lowest electricity rates in the nation. A residential customer pays less than a buck a day for power.

LePage said the state’s cost per kilowatt hour of electricity is “almost one-fifth of what we pay in California.”

He urged state residents to reach out to their representatives in the state legislature and voice their opinions.

“We cannot be Canada-independent with Canada-importing power,” LePage told Fox News. “We know for a fact that if we go that way that we will pay a premium on our prices.”

Outgoing Gov. LePage is starting a program at Maine’s two colleges and universities in which the law will require them to purchase 2 percent of their power from Maine-generated plants each year. LePage says the state’s utilities will need to find a way to meet the needs.

LePage noted that the wind power provides 12 percent of his state’s energy, but it “does not keep the lights on on Saturday night.”

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Jennifer Jacobs is a Fox News Business correspondent based in New York. Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJacobsFox

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