- Associated Press - Monday, March 23, 2015

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - There is an abundance of clean electricity in eastern Canada waiting to be sent to the energy-hungry states of New England, officials said Monday at an international energy conference at the University of Vermont.

A number of projects are underway to help move that power south, but officials from both the United States and Canada said there is still a need to reduce energy consumption through efficiency programs as well as expand ways to produce clean power locally across the region.

“There is a real opportunity here between these six New England states and the four eastern Canadian provinces to work together,” said Aaron Annable, the acting consul general at the Canadian Consulate in Boston.

Annable spoke at the conference at the University of Vermont entitled “Power from the North.”

“Quebec and New England are pursuing the same objective and facing the same challenges raised by changes in the world’s energy market,” said Pierre Arcand, the Quebec minister of Energy and Natural Resources. “We have geographic proximity and the values we share make us natural partners.”

New England energy planners are looking at ways to take advantage of the abundant supplies of hydro-electric power available in Quebec and other parts of Canada to help the region meet its power needs.

David Cash, the former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Public Utilities, said the current energy thinking doesn’t go far enough to bring in new ideas as well as new sources of electricity, ensuring electric sources are reliable and finding more ways of bringing that electricity to the people and businesses that would use it.

He said the number of transmission lines in the planning stages should be expanded and the region should take advantage of offshore wind projects and the number of solar power installations should also be increased. And it should be done in a way that allows utilities to make money and customers to be happy as well, he said.

“The mix is not going to be the mix we’re looking at here of natural gas and coal and maybe some oil in the winter,” Cash said. “It’s going to be hydro from Canada, it’s going to be offshore wind from one of the best resources in the entire world off the coast of New England and the Canadian provinces, it’s going to be solar distributed when you drive up the highway… you should be seeing solar everywhere.”

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