“The New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC)”
by Tim Randall
What would be undeniably fatal to many miles of undeveloped forests and countless ecosystems in Maine? Central Maine Power’s “The New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC)” proposal to carry renewable hydropower from the Canadian border through Maine to Massachusetts through a 145-mile corridor.
On August 13th WGME reported that CMP’s controversial corridor project may move ahead without voter input, after the state’s highest court says a ballot question that could block the project is unconstitutional. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says he’s respecting the court’s decision to not put the referendum on the November ballot.
The project would cost nearly a billion dollars and CMP claims the benefits will consist of lower energy costs, reduced rates for Mainers, a decrease in carbon emissions, cleaner air and energy, as well as contributions to Maine’s economic growth. And at Maine’s current 3.0% unemployment rate, the jobs would most likely go to Canadians and out of staters which does very little to benefit Maine.
Central Maine Power would cut through 53 miles of untouched forests and ecosystems in the North Woods and would eventually be attached to pre-existing transmission lines that stretch 93 miles from Moxie Gore to Pownal, Maine. The corridor will be 150 feet wide, 145 miles long and would have 850 one-hundred-foot tall transmission towers along the way. That’s a whopping 2600 acres of damage to the environment and it’s many ecosystems! The first 53 miles of the corridor in Somerset County would border the protected Beattie Pond in Franklin County and cross the Kennebec River Gorge. This could potentially hurt future tourism, as well as the many different species that reside there.
The corridor would also intersect the Appalachian Trail and pollute our beautiful Maine views with towers and electrical lines. It would invade 263 wetlands and 115 streams, as well as hurt the habitats of many species including fish, deer, inland waterfowls and wading birds, etc.
Earlier in September, the Land Use Planning Commission and CMP agreed that they would bury the transmission line under the Kennebec River Gorge, as well as having the corridor parallel to the Appalachian Trail. Also, CMP revised their proposal on September 19th and said that they would reroute the corridor to avoid the protected Beattie Pond. CMP made sure to mention that they purchased land in Franklin County from Yale University for “$1 cash and other considerations,” but did not say what those other considerations were. They believe that their reroute proposal will satisfy members of the Land Use Planning Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection.
Prior to this, Yale University and a company called Eversource Energy proposed a similar transmission line that would cut through northern parts of New Hampshire from the Canadian border to Massachusetts. Yale University and Eversource Energy were shut down by the New Hampshire Supreme Court in 2017. Why has Yale University invested in this project TWICE? Are they more interested in making money than preventing damage to the environment?
The CMP corridor would lower the average Mainer’s monthly electricity bills by about 6 cents, which is 0.06% of a $100 electricity bill. . That’s like going into a store and seeing a pair of shoes or set of tools at 0.06% off its total price. Not to mention that CMP has yet to define what kind of renewable power it will be. Are those 6 cents worth the destruction to the environment?
Today in Maine, CMP is hoping to expand and many Mainers are against the proposed transmission line. Over 20 towns, along with many organizations and environmental groups have voted against its construction. The people of Maine need to gather more than 63,000 signatures by January for a chance to vote on it during the November ballot in 2020. Take action and join the fight to Stop the Corridor by visiting, http://www.corridorno.com, as well as, nrcm.salsalabs.org/opposenecec, to ensure Maine keeps Maine, “The Way Life Should Be.”
“If Mainers don’t unite to oppose this project, these unique places and special experiences will be a memory.”
—Todd Towle, Kingfisher River Guides, Kingfield, ME
Source for image: Natural Resources Council of Maine