Alternative Power Down East

Maine utilities switched to hydropower and activated an oil-fired electric generating plant in the wake of a crippling hydrogen fire at Maine Yankee Atomic Power's Wiscasset nuclear plant on Apr. 29. The 840-megawatt plant supplies a quarter of Maine's electricity. It's owned by 10 utilities, including 38%-owner Central Maine Power.

Central Maine Power says it will run its oil-fired plant as well as hydropower for the next several months if the nuclear plant's generator shows significant damage. The utility said it expects to meet current demand using plants normally activated only during the peak summer and winter seasons but warned that electricity produced by the non-nuclear plants costs three to four times as much as that derived from Maine Yankee.

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