Concerns raised over CMP transmission line proposal

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CMP’s map of the proposed New England Clean Energy Connect.

FARMINGTON – Selectmen listened to concerns regarding the proposed Central Maine Power transmission line from state Senator Tom Saviello Tuesday night, along with the voices of several other local residents including former state Senator Walter Gooley.

The proposed line would run from the Canadian border in western Somerset County down into a new AC/DC converter station in Lewiston, with 45 miles requiring a newly established corridor. The New England Clean Energy Connect was the accepted bid from a request for proposals by Massachusetts to bring up to 9.45 Terawatts of clean energy power into the state. The line would deliver 1,200 Megawatts of power from a Canadian hydroelectric company, Hydro-Québec, to the New England grid.

According to CMP’s website, the project ensures 1,700 jobs in Maine annually for the next five years, as well as $18 million in increased property tax revenues each year for host communities. Energy savings, as previously reported, are projected by CMP to save New England customers $3.9 billion in the next 20 years, with Massachusetts customers saving $150 million annually. Maine customers would reportedly save $40 million annually.

“As your district Senator, I have a responsibility to make sure you have all the facts and you were not given those,” Saviello told the board.”It’s not so much about stopping it from happening, but getting questions answered.”

Saviello reported that two other similar projects were proposed in Vermont and New Hampshire by two different companies and each were offered $200 and $300 million in economic development funds.

“CMP has been crickets. They have offered zero and that bothers me. We’re going to see our forests cut. We’re going to be taking a risk and we should be getting something out of that,” he said.

Gooley also expressed concern about the project.

Others across the state have raised concern over the project as well, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine. A recent study conducted on the economic benefits concluded that the company used a predicted 60 percent inflation rate of energy prices in the future, creating a matched inflation in benefits.

“The initial analysis has raised a lot of big questions,” NRCM staff attorney Sue Ely said.

Senator Saviello said he will be digging deeper into the project over the next month and plans to return to the board with more information by July 1. Although Farmington has already voiced support of the project last year, Saviello said he hopes the board will consider revoking that support.

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