SAINT JOHN (CNB) – The province (of New Brunswick) will work with the State of Maine to explore development of the northeast energy corridor, Premier Shawn Graham and Maine Governor John Baldacci announced today.

As well, Irving Oil announced that it is conducting commercial and technical feasibility on the first phase of development of the corridor, which includes 1,200 – 1,500 MW of electrical transmission capability, wind generation, and a base load, natural-gas-fired co-generation plant to release the wind-generation capacity. The corridor will support the development of diverse energy sources in both jurisdictions for use in the region, and transportation to markets in the northeast United States.

“Through these challenging economic times, New Brunswick remains focused on a vision of economic self-sufficiency,” said Graham. “The concept of a fully integrated northeast energy corridor will provide tangible economic, environmental and energy self-sufficiency benefits for the residents and businesses of New Brunswick, and our friends and neighbours in the State of Maine. The proposed energy corridor will help accelerate the development and deployment of clean, renewable and greenhouse-gas-free electricity generation resources in both New Brunswick and Maine, as well as help address and support the overall North American energy security agenda.”

The corridor would cross from New Brunswick into Maine, and would reliably and securely deliver a wide range of energy products to the northeast in the most economically and environmentally efficient way. The emphasis would be on renewable power, including wind, tidal, and natural-gas-fired co-generation; petroleum products; and natural-gas transmission. The corridor would also be future-proofed to prevent it from becoming obsolete, permitting it to accommodate future energy forms and the productive use of CO2.

“Great potential exists for Maine and New Brunswick to grow and share clean, renewable energy,” said Baldacci.  “For the full potential to be realized, regional transmission capacity must expand.  Exploring the potential for private investment in the northeast energy corridor is a vital next step to realizing our shared goals of achieving energy independence, having access to reliable and affordable energy, and reducing carbon emissions on both sides of the border.”

The corridor would further the shared strategic objectives of Canada and the United States in the areas of energy supply and energy security; the development of green power and CO2 management; economic development and stimulus; and trade. The corridor would also help to attract significant direct investment to the region, and support New Brunswick’s and Maine’s self-sufficiency goals.

“Today’s announcement is one more step forward in positioning New Brunswick and Maine as a strategic energy hub and energy gateway for the international northeast region,” said Energy Minister Jack Keir. “We are very pleased with Irving Oil’s commitment to developing a diverse and competitive portfolio of energy supply options, as well as its efforts to explore innovative ways of getting that energy delivered to key east-coast markets.”

“We are motivated by Premier Graham’s and Governor Baldacci’s long-term vision for the growth of our region, and are pleased to be playing a role in helping to develop the concept,” said Kenneth Irving of Irving Oil. “The northeast energy corridor would involve a complex series of projects that would require a high level of collaboration and effort to attract companies to come invest in our region. The undertaking is particularly challenging at a time when our industry and the global economy face a high degree of uncertainty. There is still a long road and many decisions ahead of us, but we wanted to respond to our governments’ and our communities’ desire to continue to pursue energy projects that would meet shared social, economic, and environmental goals.”