Here you will discover and learn about the latest news regarding a proposed transmission line in Maine that will serve as a litmus test to see whether or not the United States is capable of developing the necessary electricity infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions. Also, when it is finished, the developers of a tower that will have 74 stories and be located in downtown Austin believe it will be the tallest building in all of Texas. In addition, a news release from the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas stated that the public comment period for the planned Embarkation Operations Facility at the United States Naval Base Guam is open through October 13th. Moreover, officials say that the extension of the Springfield Clinic’s structure, which will cost $50 million, will boost efficiency and streamline services. The extension will feature a pediatric and adolescent clinic that will cost $20 million and is now under development.
Maine power line shows U.S. climate challenges
Original Source: Embattled Maine power line foreshadows U.S. climate obstacles
A proposed transmission line in Maine will test whether America can develop the power infrastructure needed to cut carbon emissions.
Last Thursday, Maine’s highest court declared that a 2021 vote prohibiting the 145-mile route was unconstitutional. The decision is the latest twist in a four-year debate over the carbon-cutting initiative.
New England Clean Energy Connect’s future is unknown.
Maine’s high court remanded the case. Avangrid Inc. must verify it started building last year with its state permission, issued before Maine voters blocked the project. Appealing the project’s federal permits and whether the line can traverse state-owned territory are also pending.
The alternative may have been much worse. But it doesn’t smooth the way; they still face several challenges, said ClearView Energy Partners analyst Timothy Fox. I’d be hopeful, but I wouldn’t pop champagne corks yet.
The Maine legal drama comes as the nation focuses on large-scale infrastructure initiatives. Congress will debate permitting reform this fall, and FERC may modify transmission planning standards.
New transmission is needed to connect clean energy plants to the grid and move electricity across regions to meet renewable output changes. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine predicted that the U.S. requires a 60% increase in transmission capacity by 2030 to connect and distribute wind and solar energy.
Transmission line construction is risky. According to the American Clean Power Association, transmission development in the U.S. decreased to fewer than 400 miles last year from 1,400 miles the year before.
Maine shows how tough transmission development may be.
The proposal stems from a 2016 Massachusetts law requiring utilities to buy Canadian hydropower to supplement offshore wind. Hydro-Québec would deliver 9.45 terawatt-hours of electricity annually, enough to meet 18% of Massachusetts’ consumption.
Avangrid believes the project will cut CO2 by 3.1 million tons a year. New England’s power plant emissions were 25 million tons last year.
Massachusetts needs a power line. New Hampshire locals opposed plans to construct a power line through the state. New England Clean Energy Connect was chosen.
The almost $1 billion project would create a 53-mile path through the Maine woods from the Canadian border to Lewiston, Maine, where it would connect to the New England grid.
In Maine, roughly 60% of voters opposed the project last year. Some voters feared fragmenting Maine’s forests. Competing electricity firms spent millions to thwart the project. NextEra Energy Inc., operator of Seabrook Nuclear Station in New Hampshire, has been particularly fierce, investing $20 million in the ballot referendum and battling the project through state and federal regulatory bodies (Climatewire, Jan. 18).
Opponents insist they’re not NIMBYs. Tom Saviello, a former Republican state senator who opposes the project, says western Maine wouldn’t receive enough economic advantages.
In 2019, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills secured a $258 million settlement to relieve public criticism (Climatewire, Feb. 25, 2019). The arrangement funded electric cars and heat pumps but did little to address western Maine’s economic concerns, like a dearth of high-speed internet, Saviello said.
Avangrid “struck gold.” He claimed we’d get whoopie pies. “We’re sacrificing everything to improve Maine’s ecology.”
Much of the criticism originates from suspicion of Central Maine Power, the Avangrid affiliate installing the line, says lawyer Adam Cote. Recent outages and billing issues have plagued the utility. Last in J.D. Power’s latest utility customer satisfaction poll. Only Mills’ veto averted a public acquisition of the company last year.
Some opponents say claims that the transmission line will assist the climate are hollow because Central Maine Power campaigned to reject a recent rooftop solar bill, Cote said.
“Do you trust CMP to do this?” he asked. “They like to claim they’re helping the environment, but Mainers know better.” “They’re profiting.”
Avangrid didn’t comment. The firm characterized the Maine Supreme Judicial Court decision as a win for sustainable energy.
“It’s time to move away from the status quo of fossil fuel companies,” Avangrid added.
Transmission line placement is difficult.
Proponents argue it’s needed to decarbonize New England. They say hydropower can be swiftly ramped up and down to match wind and solar output.
It would also reduce New England’s dependency on natural gas, which provided about half of its power in 2021. Due to limited pipeline capacity, New England has historically relied on LNG imports to balance the grid during cold weather. A frigid winter would be expensive if the region had to buy LNG on the spot market, where costs have soared owing to the Ukraine crisis (Climatewire, May 10).
Supporters believe that while Massachusetts consumers pay for the connection, its advantages will be shared by ISO New England, the wholesale power market connecting six Northeastern states.
“We must move renewable and zero-carbon electricity to population centers.” Former Maine utility regulator Sharon Reishus supports the idea. If you believe in climate change, act. Some will be easy, some difficult. Transmission line placement is difficult.
Fox, a ClearView analyst, said hydro is essential to decarbonizing New England’s electricity grid. New England Clean Energy Connect will become the region’s third largest electricity supplier after Millstone and Seabrook.
All New England states want to go green, which is excellent, but we need a dispatchable generation. Hydro is less intermittent and more reliable. Grid operators saw this transmission line as a chance to build fresh supplies. It reconciles the ecological agenda and grid dependability. “
By last year’s vote, Avangrid had cut 124 miles of the project’s corridor, installed various transmission buildings, and invested $450 million.
The enterprise must prove it possessed vested rights before the November,2021 ballot measure in a lower Maine court. Maine’s high court ruled that a ballot initiative couldn’t retrospectively limit property rights, but it left open whether Avangrid complied with its permit.
The fundamental question is whether Avangrid rushed up construction to secure its rights by the vote.
While the court didn’t rule on whether Avangrid undertook considerable construction in “good faith,” the justices wrote that NECEC did.
Even if Avangrid demonstrates its rights are vested, it must still beat a separate case contesting its capacity to cross state land and appeal to its federal Clean Water Act permit and presidential permit to cross an international boundary. The number of permits and appeals shows how difficult it is to develop transmission in the U.S., says Jeffrey Porter, head of the environmental practice at a Boston legal firm.
Porter added that the number of regulations and appeals will make it take longer to develop the infrastructure we desire. “Congress must expedite permitting and limit appeals once a permit is issued.”
Congress may discuss how to do this. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) agreed to enable reform as part of an agreement with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) earlier this summer. Manchin wants to restrict environmental evaluations to two years, limit appeals, and approve the Mountain Valley pipeline.
Rob Gramlich, president of Grid Strategies LLC, said FERC’s attempts to modernize transmission planning guidelines are also vital. FERC’s proposal boosts regional transmission planning.
Future decarbonization efforts will benefit from regional planning, he added, citing the Midwest, where a multistate effort led by the regional grid operator led to 16 transmission lines during the last decade.
He added that clean energy proponents must educate the public in states like Maine about the need for decarbonization projects.
Gramlich: “I don’t think Maine voters appreciated the line’s clean energy benefits.” These systemwide benefits help the system work and create a cleaner portfolio.
Austin’s 74-story highest tower begins construction
Developers believe a 74-story tower in downtown Austin will be the highest in all of Texas once completed.
Lincoln Property Company and Kairoi Residential broke ground on the 1,022-foot tower. The tower joins Austin’s continuous high-rise building boom, changing the city’s skyline.
At 1,774 feet, One World Trade Center in New York is the nation’s tallest structure, followed by Central Park Tower at 1,550 ft. The Bank of America Tower is 1,200 feet tall and ranked far lower by World Atlas.
Developers disclosed the Austin project’s name, opening date, and new equity partner on Tuesday.
The tower is named “Waterline.” It’ll be erected on Red River Street and 3.3 acres in downtown’s Rainey Street district. The Lady Bird Lake high-rise will open in late 2026.
The 75-story JPMorgan Chase Tower (originally known as Texas Commerce Tower) in downtown Houston is now the tallest structure in Texas.
Austin’s tallest tower is the 58-story Independent, dubbed the “Jenga Tower” for its offset shape. 690 ft. high.
Lincoln and Kairo said PSP Investments, one of Canada’s major pension fund managers, is the main equity partner in the new Waterline skyscraper.
Lincoln’s senior vice president in Austin stated in a release that the waterline sets a new milestone for downtown because of its height and good influence on connections, public facilities, and attracting more people.
The Lincoln and Kairoi projects will contain 352 residences, 700,000 square feet of office space, and a 251-room hotel in Austin. SH Hotel Resorts’ luxurious 1 Hotel brand, which promotes sustainability, will open in Texas for the first time.
Waterline was called by Michael Lynd Jr., CEO of Kairoi Residential, “Austin’s future icon.” The tower is being designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, whose portfolio includes 55 Hudson Yards and One Vanderbilt.
Waterline will construct two pedestrian bridges over Waller Creek from the west and three access sites to the Waterloo Greenway from the east. Developers will donate $1 million to repair the Waterloo Greenway, a 1.5-mile trail that connects UT Austin to Lady Bird Lake.
The Waterline’s ground floor will include 24,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. The hotel will occupy the next 13 floors, including a ballroom and meeting rooms on the 14th floor and a rooftop pool on the 16th floor.
The office space will be on 27 levels and the homes on 33. The 41st floor will contain two pools, a lounge, a bar, a kitchen, and coworking space.
The developers say May 2025 is the projected date for office tenant renovations. In August 2025, the tower is scheduled to “peak out.” A hotel and apartments are set to debut in the fall of 2026.
Lincoln and Kairoi haven’t revealed the project’s cost. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation estimated the cost at $520 million last year.
Open comment period for Naval Base Guam project
The public comment period for the proposed Embarkation Operations Facility in the U.S. Naval Base Guam is available through Oct. 13, according to a news release from Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas.
The proposed project comprises the construction of a dispatch building, a cargo staging area, and a U.S. Department of Agriculture air-conditioned inspection, along with off-site road upgrades to connect the new facility to Uniform Wharf in the north and Marine Corps Drive in the south.
The memo also suggested other road upgrades that will be included in the project, including the asphalt road widening of Harbor Drive between Marine Corps Drive and the U.S. The Coast Guard facility gate
The planned project is located in the Apra Harbor region of U.S. Naval Base Guam, and the Programmatic Agreement note states that the Department of Defense surveyed and evaluated the proposed construction site.
NAVFAC Pacific’s memo states that no historic properties have been located in the J-609 APE (Area of Potential Effect).
Springfield Clinic plans a $50 million expansion
Springfield Clinic’s $50 million building expansion will increase efficiency and consolidate services, officials say.
The expansion includes a $20 million pediatric and adolescent center already under construction.
Also planned are a $17 million state-of-the-art medical lab at the former Family Service Center on South Grand Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets and a four-story, $11 million enlargement of its South Sixth Street headquarters.
All three projects are managed by O’Shea Builders. Springfield’s Farnsworth Group and St. Louis’ Lawrence Group designed the pediatric facility.
The project will create hundreds of construction jobs.
Despite being centered in Springfield, the clinic has 90 locations throughout 38 counties, Fitch said. A clinic spokeswoman stated that it has 3,000 workers.
The building boom occurs as COVID-19 eases, but inflation is 8.5% and the supply chain is an issue.
“We’re not immune to inflation and other issues,” Fitch warned. “Springfield Clinic is owned and led by physicians, who are committed to these programs because they affect patients and how they give care.” Despite the hurdles, we’ve continued to pursue them despite COVID. “
The 40,000-square-foot pediatric center commenced on ground this year and will be done in 2023, Fitch said.
It merges two Springfield pediatric offices: 2532 Farragut Drive and 2200 Wabash Ave.
The center will combine social work with standard pediatric clinical services, focusing on adolescent wellness and health, Fitch said.
“I think everyone is aware of the lifestyle scenario for many of our youngsters with pediatric diabetes and other chronic diseases,” he said. “So that will be a significant focus.”
The medical lab replaces one in the east building. It will also house its downtown drive-up lab, which is already in the historic U.S. Bank building on Cook Street between Fifth and Sixth streets.
“We have no room,” Fitch stated. “We’ll be able to analyze lab samples faster and deliver information to our doctors faster, which benefits our patients.”
The lab will be done in late fall 2023.
The Family Service Center has moved to 919 S. Spring St.
Fitch said the 46,000-square-foot expansion is still being developed, but it will extend radiology capabilities such as MRI, CT scan, X-ray, and other imaging services.
Fitch said the extension will allow the facility to expand a gastrointestinal clinic. It treats pancreatic, liver, esophagus, stomach, and colon issues.
The reforms are patient-driven, said Fitch. He said patient feedback was read within 24 hours and spread across the business swiftly.
“We work hard to listen to our patients and implement adjustments,” he stated. “That’s part of our culture, and I think it shows in how they feel about Springfield Clinic and the physicians here.”
Ryan McCrady, CEO of Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance, said the clinic’s expansion showed its commitment to the area.
Not only is the Springfield Clinic moving,
McCrady said all of our health care providers continue to invest. “Springfield Clinic, Memorial Health System, and Hospital Sisters all have cranes and equipment. We can’t assume it.
“Our neighborhood has regional health care providers that people travel to for high-quality service. We can do that in 15 minutes. Our healthcare providers had a hard time during the epidemic, so seeing them invest like this is inspiring and a symbol of a bright future for our town. “
This shows, Fitch said, that the clinic remains part of the community.
“Good outlook,” he remarked. “Consider that doctors send their kids to the same schools as everyone else in the town, pray in the same places, and visit businesses owned by locals.”
“I think it’s vital and unique that Springfield Clinic is involved in the community.” I think capital investments show community commitment.
Summary of today’s construction news
In today’s construction news, the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine ruled that a vote in 2021 that would have prohibited the 145-mile route was unconstitutional. The decision represents the most recent development in the discussion that has been going on for the past four years on the carbon-cutting plan. The future of New England Clean Energy Connect is now undetermined.
Meanwhile, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the 1,022-foot tower by Lincoln Property Company and Kairoi Residential. The skyscraper is part of Austin’s ongoing high-rise building boom, which is altering the city’s skyline. The building’s name is a play on the word “waterline.” It’s going to be erected on 3.3 acres on Red River Street and the nearby Rainey Street. Late in 2026, the doors to the Lady Bird Lake skyscraper will swing open.
Furthermore, the Department of Defense conducted a survey and analysis of the potential construction site for the planned project, which will be located in the Apra Harbor section of the United States Naval Base Guam, according to the note included in the Programmatic Agreement.
Moreover, according to Fitch, although the clinic’s headquarters are in Springfield, it has 90 satellite offices in a total of 38 counties. A representative for the facility mentioned that there are 3,000 employees there.