Industry board opposes transmission line as MPUC decision is appealed

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INDUSTRY – The Board of Selectpersons has indicated its opposition to the New England Clean Energy Connect project in a May 7 letter to the Maine Public Utilities Commission, rescinding its previously-issued support. Meanwhile on the state level, a power company appealed the MPUC order that granted an important certificate for the project with an additional day of state agency hearings scheduled for Thursday.

MPUC ordered the issuing of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the $1 billion project last month. The Central Maine Power project would create a 145-mile, Direct Current transmission line with 1,200 megawatt capacity that would link Canadian hydro power to the New England grid via a converter station in Lewiston. In March, MPUC’s staff issued an Examiner’s Report that recommended the commissioners issue the certificate and allow the project to go forward. The three commissioners unanimously agreed, finding that the project’s improvements to the electric system’s reliability and cost outweighed potential impact to scenic and recreational values. That decision was welcomed by Central Maine Power and denounced by opponents.

One of those opponents was NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, an energy company that was an intervenor during the MPUC process. On May 7, NextEra appealed the MPUC order granting the certificate, arguing that CMP hadn’t adequately investigated alternatives to the transmission line, among other issues. The appeal will be heard by the Maine Supreme Court.

On the same day, Industry’s Board of Selectpersons indicated to the MPUC that they were revoking the town’s support for the project and taking up a new position of formal opposition. Industry’s board supported the project in a letter sent to the MPUC in fall 2018, but that previous communication had been sent when the board had “limited information, as Central Maine Power was only in the initial application phase,” according to the May 7 letter. Industry would join the towns of Farmington and Wilton as Franklin County communities that previously supported NECEC but had since come down in opposition to the transmission line.

Jay town officials have received a petition to hold a town meeting on Jay’s support for NECEC. The Jay Board of Selectpersons will be discussing the petition on May 13.

The project’s next steps in to seek permitting from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Land Use Planning Commission. A joint hearing, continuing the five days of hearings held in Farmington in early April, will be held Thursday at the Cross Insurance Arena in Bangor.

In advance of that hearing, CMP has indicated that it would not use herbicides or pesticides in the construction of the 53 miles of new corridor.

CMP President and CEO Doug Herling called that commitment “another positive step forward towards a significant environmental milestone created by [NECEC],” in a statement released Wednesday.

“With an on-going objective of continuous improvement on environmental responsibility, we operate our business in a sustainable and prudent manner, including reduction of our own carbon footprint,” Herling said.

Natural Resources Council of Maine, which opposes the project, said that refraining from the use of herbicides or pesticides would not change the “fundamental flaws” of the project.

“The damages that would be done to Maine’s North Woods have been well documented and would occur regardless of herbicide use,” NRCM staff scientist Nick Bennett said, listing issues such as reduced brook trout habitat and deer wintering yards, as well as the visual impacts of the project.

In addition to the state agencies, federal approval is required, including approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. At the end of April, the Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to the USACE asking for additional information, including more detail about mitigation for steam and brook impact and possible alternatives to the NECEC corridor.

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  1. More losses for CMP. So they flew a team of lobbyists into Augusta, pour millions into radio, tv and written propaganda and make desperate promises to not use herbicides”during the building of the transmission line.” No promises about long term avoidance of herbicides, which are in actuality only a small part of this disaster for Maine. Luckily most Mainers are no so easily fooled by these highly compensated language manipulators. Way to go industry!
    PS: the PUC is going to see lots of lawsuits. They failed to do their job with even a minimum of diligence.

  2. In advance of that hearing, CMP has indicated that it would not use herbicides or pesticides in the construction of the 53 miles of new corridor.whike this might be true it also says during the construction of but fails to say what happens after .seeming how cmp doesnt do the clearing of the lines after they are in ,its lucas tree that cuts the brush and sprays then and this doesnt promise that they wont use chemicals . theres still lots of unanswered questions on this .put it to a public vote in november

  3. Thank you Industry! My family still owns land there and it will forever be my real “hometown”. Let’s save paradise, and keep everything exactly “How life should be”. NIMBY.

  4. Stop wondering why CMP has continued to spend millions of dollars on this dead in the road project. It is because of the possibility of billions of profit for the Spaniards at the expense of Maine folks. This elephant has nothing at all to do with saving the Earth or helping the people in Massachusetts burn electricity for more air conditioning. These folks could care less what our state will look like, what chemicals will be used under the power line, what streams will be forever changed, what damage a fire caused by a failure of a downed line, what visual damage to the landscape or our rights with home rule. Write to your representatives in Augusta and tell them Maine is not for sale.

  5. Next Era Energy has an affiliation with wind industry/ wind turbines. In 2018 the state of Oklahoma sent Next Era a cease and desist order for it’s activities to promote wind turbine construction.

    Maine Natural Resources Council website is covered in white windmills and one of their biggest donors is Cianbro which is actively engaged in wind turbine lobby because they have scored building projects for them in the past.

    They oppose this line because they want to score a wind deal.

    Franklin County—you need the money. You get on here screeching boo hoo hoo about a short section that’s been logged up near the border (the rest is the existing line)……………yet people will also scream and cry about Wilton raising the water rate.

    Take the money and tell them to throw in paying your water bill or something…

    and if you’re hoping to score a better deal from the wind power lobby…. welp, better get that price in writing and make sure it’s a good one.

  6. For those of you who may have missed this article in the Portland Press Herald. Recognize any names of who may benefit? Always follow the money.

    The memorandum goes on to state: “Commencing on the first anniversary of the execution of this MOU by both parties, (CMP agrees to) provide to WM&RC annual grants for five years in the amount of $50,000 each year to support WM&RC’s charitable mission.”

    Exhibit C of this memorandum lists members of the board of directors of the Western Mountains & Rivers Corp. Included on this list is Peter Mills, brother of Janet Mills, now the governor of Maine. This raises serious questions and concerns about conflicts of interest inherent in a board member being the brother of Maine’s governor as it relates to her shift in support of this misguided project.

  7. ^^^^^^^ What Toms says! Smart man.

    “lobby” One battle at a time. Sometimes the enemy of your enemy is your friend.

  8. Cross Insurance Center is in Bangor, the “arena” is in Portland, so the meeting it taking place in Bangor.

  9. Sorry in the “lobby,” but I talked with a CMP official just this week and they won’t be handing out anymore money, just what they have already “guesstimated.” As a matter of fact, they may reduce the amount of mitigation monies if this line becomes more expensive for them to construct. So, there goes asking for a reduced…..anything. Except of course, the “estimated” 18 million in tax revenue they said they’d pay towns that will “host” the Corridor. Now,that could very well be reduced.

    I’d like to thank the Maine Senate today for their bipartisan vote on LD-640. It certainly sent a clear message to those who thought a Governor’s endorsement and mitigation money from a company who is clearly in it for profit, would make this a done deal. It’s not, as the 30-4 vote signifies.

    I’d also like to thank Industry and all the other towns, 15 to date, that have reached out to their Select Boards and voiced their opinion. This isn’t sidelining a Select Board as some would have you think. Its a democratic process and I thank those Select Boards that have let the town’s citizens have a voice in this matter.

    In closing, some townsfolk in Jay will be handing in a petition to their Select Board on May 13th. They simply want a say and a vote on this NECEC project. I don’t think that’s to much to ask, especially since one of their own, a board member, is voicing her opinion on the NECEC in a television commercial. What is fair for one is fair for another, right?

    Have a nice night everyone and just remember, this isn’t a done deal.

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