I woke up this morning smiling about an anonymous quote I remembered: “History repeats itself because no one listened the first time around.” I am going to vote yes on Question 1 this November.
Why? The Maine Legislature passed a bill in 2010 to enact a Maine Energy Corridor using I-95 and the Maine Turnpike Authority to transmit power produced by Maine renewable energy companies to southern New England. The legislature appointed a committee, The Interagency Review Panel (IRP), to study the possibility and enact a process for Maine to follow. The Interagency Review Panel consisted of four Maine state commissioners from the Department of Transportation, Maine Turnpike Authority, administration, and Office of Energy Resources, along with four prominent citizens. They studied the issue for two years and determined it was feasible and worth millions of dollars to Maine taxpayers.
Bangor Hydro partnered with a prominent firm called National Grid to explore the possibility. They determined that it was feasible to bury a DC cable along the Interstate right-of-way and transmit all the power Maine could supply to southern New England, where demand far exceeded supply for renewable energy.
The IRP hired an appraiser to determine the value of leasing this right-of-way. Using Maine’s major interstate system saved the supplier millions of dollars in real estate rights of way, made repair access much more affordable, and had little environmental impact. The value to Maine in 2014 was set at $100 million.
What happened between 2014 and today is worth considering. The administration in Augusta changed in 2011. Gov. Lepage was opposed to both solar and wind energy. CMP actively negotiated a cheaper deal to deliver a product to southern New England and convinced the administration it was a better deal.
I hear rhetoric daily about the benefit to Maine of the new CMP/HydroQuebec proposal and why we should oppose Question 1. Then I think about the $60 million spent on this information campaign.
Is it really a better deal to accept CMP’s offer?
I am voting yes on Question 1 so we can rethink what is best for Maine in the long term.
Fenwick L Fowler