The guest editorial that appeared in the Portland Press Herald on December 26, 2021 from Richard Barringer and Lloyd Irland contained misinformation and a disturbing fact about the planning of the NECEC project.
If the NECEC project had been planned for a decade, it was undertaken in secret without informing Maine people or the Maine Legislature. This is reminiscent of the secret December 2014 lease agreement between the Central Maine Power Company (CMP) and the Director Bureau of Parks and Lands to use public reserved land for the transmission line without informing the public or the Maine Legislature. Thankfully, Superior Court Judge Michaela Murphy ruled the lease agreement void.
The claim that site selection was undertaken with care is inconsistent with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) report that granted a license to CMP/Avangrid/Iberdrola. The transmission line was initially located near a designated remote pond, Beattie Pond. The Maine Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) forced CMP/Avangrid/Iberdrola to move the transmission line path.
The transmission line, as approved by the DEP, would damage the habitat of thirteen rare and endangered species, threaten the habitat of native brook trout, destroy 9.6 acres of rare Jack Pine Forest and traverse Coburn Mountain, the highest mountain in the Upper Kennebec Valley, and be visible from Route 201.
The DEP required CMP/Avangrid/Iberdrola to conserve 40,000 acres to offset the documented environmental damage from the transmission line.
CMP/Avangrid/Iberdrola outspent by four times the YES side of Referendum Question 1 that successfully stopped the NECEC project. The effort to stop the NECEC project was lead primarily by volunteers, including whitewater guides who cherish the beauty and environment of the Upper Kennebec Valley.
Had CMP/Avangrid/Iberdrola dedicated the funds to electric rate relief that they spent trying to defeat Referendum Question 1, it would have saved CMP ratepayers over $9.00 per month.
John R. Nicholas