Franklin Countys First News

Concerns raised over CMP transmission line proposal

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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30 Responses »

  1. Over the past few years we have seen the windmills in our beautiful hills and this was done to send electricity to Massachusetts. We the citizens of Maine are not getting near enough benefit from these projects. The citizens of Maine are giving up our forest, our hills and views for about nothing. I believe we should say no to any more electrical projects in Western Maine. They are doing these projects here because they don't have to reimburse us.

    The benefit of jobs is short lived, it is great until the project is done, and then we are left with the scar.

  2. A big question for me, and I would imagine for all concerned is whether or not this would reduce the energy cost in the state of Maine. One of the biggest hindrances to job growth in any rural areas is the total cost of doing business. We lack a good infrastructure to attract employers to Western Maine. A cheaper energy source would help. Again, I don't know any details about this project but approval should be tied to a price reduction in rates. Hydro power is not subject to geopolitical volatility like fossil fuels so my comment is not an unreasonable request. As always, focus on the benefit to all consumers not just during the project but for a twenty year period. Then we can have better debates about the impact to the landscape. If we are going to give something up, we must have something in return and better profit margins for CMP is not a win for the people. Our region has already seen that corporations do not share the wealth or add good paying jobs here even when they have record profits and enormous cash reserves.

  3. I too prefer the beautiful vista of an unspoiled landscape, so please don't get me wrong. But when it comes to windmills vs. power lines that traverse over hill and dale, I prefer the look of windmills. And at least they are somewhat clean energy producers. We have had power lines for as long as I remember, so I think we tend to ignore how ugly they are.

    My hope is that someone will pay attention to defeating reversal of the flow of oil through the aging pipeline that traverses across Maine; google it. Look at mining in Maine and the pollution and damage it has caused, and who benefits from it (not Mainers!).

  4. How about this for a futuristic idea...for every mile of new transmission line CMP puts in, they would be required to install X number of solar panels along the route. Think of all the south facing slopes along the way. Those wide areas along transmission lines are already kept groomed and clear. Also, the power line would be right next to the panels to hook into. That would provide an additional long term source of low cost renewable energy for Mainers...gee the rates might even go down. But, this kind of idea will never fly with the present PUC and Lepage in office.

  5. Follow the money that is changing hands on this deal...Therein will lie the truth for all concerned....Promise by major corporations are only hot air....
    and when the contract is signed....it is all over but the letters to the editor.

  6. I would rather have wind turbines than cell towers!

  7. I would rather have none of this BS littering the landscape! We are sacrificing our woods, waters, and mountains for the benefit of the state of Massachusetts, or whatever powers that be having stake in these endeavors. WTF, we as a free state need to wake up before we become Massachusetts again!

  8. I like your idea Lindy! Perhaps they could bury the new lines in some sort of inexpensive conduit? Also 1200MW of power is around how much one large nuclear/coal/natural gas power plant would make so i really don't see that Mainers would save much if anything on their bills at all especially if this power is all routed to Massachusetts.

  9. So you don’t own a cell phone Tom?
    And does anyone feel they can trust CMP considering current events?

  10. Linda you are right,those are my concerns as well,cmp gets big money from mass for power and what we get in return are power bills not only some of the highest in the country but when they somehow double or triple for no reason and we get the run around.

  11. Hydro power is the greenest energy you will find. Look what our power prices were when we had hydro damns all over the state. Wind turbines and solar are still engorged in big oil. The problem here is Massachusetts!! They want us to flatten our hills and mountains clearcut our forests so they can have cheap power. There is no reason they can't put wind turbines and solar panels all over their state and leave us alone. Linda has a point that the jobs are short term and we will reap no benefits from scarring our land for them.

  12. How does the power from the windmills get to your homes.... It it some sort of magic that I haven't heard of yet... How many acres of mountain tops and sides have the wind towers destroyed.. Where do you get your power when the wind don't blow or the sun don't shine? How much money are the politicians making... dependent which side they are on...

  13. One only has to go to Quebec and you will see what we will be saddled with. These are huge steel towers going across and over our scenic views. Let them put it underground where it won't be seen.

  14. you want long term job creation? do we want Maine to be a leader in green power generation and use? every new rooftop in Maine should be required by code to have solar arrays directly proportionate to the area of the roof. if not on the roof, then stand alone units away from the building can be used. the owner can use and/or sell as much of the power generated as they like. any solar generating capacity above this requirement is 100% benefit to the owner. major corporate interests, such as WalMart and Cabelas should be held to an even higher standard in that they have up to 5 years to install systems on existing buildings or face penalties/fines. compensation for power sold to the grid should not be at full retail value, but not free (to CMP) either. as time goes on, we have less and less incentive to get involved on a micro level while at the same time the macro level seems to be getting more and more incentive at a detriment to some of our most scenic places. this isnt a flawless idea, but i dont think its a bad one either considering green power is likely not going away.

  15. I am just so tired of all the promises of the jobs for us and not seeing them pan out for one. Most of the construction is contracted out and those companies bring in their own crews. If it is a Maine company, yeah, Maine people are generally working, but you aren't creating new jobs. That was the same bill of sale they used when they put in the wind farms up at Kibby...

    Next, electricity made in Maine goes directly onto transmission wires headed southbound on the grid. It is made here, but it does not flow through our wires so we can benefit as well from it. Instead we will have to purchase it back at a higher rate and watch it come back up the wires northbound... The only folks who are seeing any money in this situation are the deep pocket investors who own the company in charge of this whole con scheme.

    The citizens of the State of Maine are getting screwed yet again.. and willingly paying the bill monthly...

  16. To SC.....The solar panel power I mentioned would be for Mainers and to hopefully eventually permanently replace some fossil fuel energy sources. But, under the present administration I don't expect Maine to think outside of the box or to hold any corporation’s feet to the fire for the benefit of us regular folk and the environment. How come they can do this kind of stuff over in Europe...but not in this country. Simple...because big oil has control of this country. Some states now even outlaw solar panels on residential homes due to that corporate influence. LePage has relentlessly discouraged the expansion of solar in Maine. The proximity to the transmission line is key. In talking to the engineers connected with the Farmington solar panel project…the closeness to a transmission line is a major determining factor for such a project. So, installation of solar generating power along transmission lines seems logical. CMP already owns the land or the right of way, the area is kept clear, the lines are there, and they are in the power business. Go figure. This line will go in and Mainers will get nothing but the usual empty promises.

  17. A lot of valid points out there. Also some misinformation. Bottom line is this project isn't beneficial to us! Thank you Tom Saviello and others for your efforts in public awareness.

    I realize a lot of people have bought into this "green energy" scam, but we need to wake up to the reality of what big business and government is perpetrating on us. One hand washes the other folks. When a corporation can pollute legally by buying "carbon credits" there's a systemic problem. The golden rule comes to mind. Those that have the gold rule.

    These ugly windmills we have to see everyday aren't efficient. When the weather is colder electricity is fed back into these beasts to keep them from freezing. How many months out of the year is that here in this area? What is the cost to the environment that they are supposed to be saving? Not to mention the esthetic loss to our way of life.

    Solar isn't cost effective for most rural Mainers, due to the initial expense. It takes many years, it not decades, to offset the cost of equipment and installation. As for mandating a requirement on all new structures, let's be smarter. There are way too many codes already. Why would you want to burden your neighbors with this? These always sound good until the law or code is detrimental to you. Use caution when asking for more rules and confinement of our liberties.

    Long story short, until USA Inc. and big business release the technology, that already exists for cheap and clean energy, we are stuck with the status quo. Logically does it make sense that, in a century of using the current energy sources, we haven't achieved better options? It would make it pretty hard to control the masses if we had inexpensive and clean energy to free us from wage slaves we've become.

  18. A lot of valid points out there. Also some misinformation. Bottom line is this project isn't beneficial to us! Thank you Tom Saviello and others for your efforts in public awareness.

    I realize a lot of people have bought into this "green energy" scam, but we need to wake up to the reality of what big business and government is perpetrating on us. One hand washes the other folks. When a corporation can pollute legally by buying "carbon credits" there's a systemic problem. The golden rule comes to mind. Those that have the gold rule.

    These ugly windmills we have to see everyday aren't efficient. When the weather is colder electricity is fed back into these beasts to keep them from freezing. How many months out of the year is that here in this area? What is the cost to the environment that they are supposed to be saving? Not to mention the esthetic loss to our way of life.

    Solar isn't cost effective for most rural Mainers, due to the initial expense. It takes many years, it not decades, to offset the cost of equipment and installation. As for mandating a requirement on all new structures, let's be smarter. There are way too many codes already. Why would you want to burden your neighbors with this? These always sound good until the law or code is detrimental to you. Use caution when asking for more rules and confinement of our liberties.

    Long story short, until USA Inc. and big business release the technology, that already exists for cheap and clean energy, we are stuck with the status quo. Logically does it make sense that, in a century of using the current energy sources, we haven't achieved better options? It would make it pretty hard to control the masses if we had inexpensive and clean energy to free us from wage slaves we've become.

  19. Thank you Tom for doing due diligence and caring about Maine. Wish there were more politicians like you .

  20. The letter written for those elected to represent you in Augusta was reportedly done so by the NRCM .. and at least one of the Senators didn't know what was in it.. The numbers really are quite astounding. The Governors CMS calculates that it would require over 2500 wind turbines to equal the same amount of energy to the grid as the NECEC Project. My question is HOW MUCH OF MAINE'S MOUNTAINS ARE YOU WILLING TO SACRIFICE SENATOR SAVIELLO ?? In terms of solar .. Mr. LaBreque calculates approx. 35 MILLION solar panels... The four legislators are imo grandstanding ...which has been a bit of status quo for at lease two of them for years.. They talk of a plan, they pound their chest and bloviate about protecting Maine workers, the Maine environment, and the Maine ratepayer .. but their nonsensical stand on this issue makes no sense. $$ FOLLOW THE MONEY $$

  21. Why is there a "View Tax"?

    Because it has value.

    Shame on us for letting them in.

  22. Mr Dunphy especially, who has been a legislator, and others- please be polite in the debate The Bulldog allows too much nastiness. Cut it out folks, That includes bloviate and chest pounding.Elected folks should be held to a standard of behavior..

    The energy from this project goes to MAssachusetts yes? MAine gets to look at the power lines. I cannot tell from the sites I went to what the exact route is- can someone show a detailed map?

    Solar and the occasional wind turbine plus hydro as someone says are all good ideas.
    I did not know who Mr Dunphy was referencing about the number of solar panels but if Mass wants energy- and I ask each of you how often you leave your car engines running, your lights on etc, becasue we use enormous amounts of energy in this country, then Mass. should indeed look into solar yes? There aren't 35million households there?Each to have one panel perhaps ? I have solar. Solar is less about the return on dollars than the return on investment in terms of quiet reliability( no wires No power failures or snapped or iced poles or brownouts etc)
    We can do better in this country but first we have to debate politely, with facts and openness to other ideas. yeesh.

  23. I’m not sure who at the Bulldog protects our first amendment, but thank you !!
    I’m not sure exactly what standards you reference ? I’d be interested in hearing from you 399-4963 if you would like a private conversation!!! Chest pounding and bloviating occurs on a regular basis in Augusta .. as does occasionally threatening to kill bills if one bucks a senior Senators bills , swapping votes, intimidation, and a number of other activities that the general public would be appalled at. ..

    Back on topic :: I’m sure you are aware, the power is wielded through the ISO. The solar and occasional wind tower you reference provide unreliable, intermittent energy. NE (all of US) need RELIABLE power. If you are looking at the environmental impact.. storage batteries, panels, composite etc. have a huge impact. Millions of cu.yds. of crushed stones, concrete, deforestation, blasting and drilling to bedrock all do (IMO) unrepairable amounts of damage.. the spinning reserves required due to the intermittency of wind and solar costs millions of dollars to ratepayers.. and the plants must be on standby which creates poor efficiency.
    The letter written by the four Committee Chairs is in my opinion disingenuous and inappropriate... My understanding is that a number of the Senate snd House Leadership do support this project . In my mind, I question if this isn’t perhaps a bit of tit for tat pertaining to a bill that was defeated... after all it is about power and influence.

  24. It is unfortunate that people base their comments on false and misleading information. I'm an energy buff who has looked at the proposal, and here's what I see:

    A good portion goes along existing corridor, so not really doesn't change a whole lot.

    A peek at Google map satellite view or Google Earth shows that most of the area where the new section of line will go is NOT pristine, untouched wilderness. Far from it actually. It is industrial forest that has been clearcut, um, harvested heavily. You can see the multiple mazes of logging roads going through it. This ain't Baxter State Park or Acadia.

    The basic economic laws of supply and demand indicate that injecting a large amount of energy supply into a particular region has a good chance of causing the price to go lower, or at least, to not go up by as much.

    Local towns and cities tax every square foot of land and every piece of infrastructure that a utility owns. Every dollar of taxes gained from this will be a dollar that does not come out of your wallet. Or maybe they can hire a teacher, or a cop, or maybe buy a new snowplow. Makes me wish they'd come to my town.

  25. " Makes me wish they'd come to my town. "
    Maybe Mr. MaineMod should have a cell tower installed on his property ( so rates go lower, or, not up as much )
    and get back to us.
    Rural Maine will never be a " big business " area or " go to " place for hightech. Maximize what we have, beauty. build on that.
    Don't sell out to corporations because when they are done with us we are yesterdays trash.

  26. What we really need is more natural gas fired power plants. Actually, the more windmills that go up, and traditional sources of power are mothballed, you WILL need more natty gas power whether you like it or not. For grid reliability and VAR support if nothing else.

  27. Makes me wonder if Sen. Tom .. and others would be against building the Turnpike or I-95......

  28. Maybe Mr. Dunphy can respond to this:
    LeBreque’s, the Governor’s energy consultant, claims about “negative pricing” and the Production Tax Credit are ludicrous. He obviously does not understand how power plants are dispatched and power is priced. ISO-NE dispatches the plants in order of lowest marginal cost. Zero-fuel renewables (hydro, wind, solar) always have the lowest marginal cost and that is good for consumers (see https://www.iso-ne.com/participate/support/faq/da-market-commitment#b). Government subsidies don’t change those fundamentals at all. It is just baiting conservative listeners with talk of “subsidies” and “government payments”. I won’t even start on the volume of subsidies received by fossil fuels and nuclear industries. Does Lebreque even know that Hydro-Qubec is wholly-owned by the government? They heavily subsidize power they provide to their own constituents, made possible by above market contracts for exports, such as the one they have in Vermont.
    LeBreque is great at scaring people with figures he calculates on solar and wind power. On wind, he does that by picking Maine’s oldest wind farm to extrapolate from (saying we would need “90 Mars Hill projects”.) 18 wind farms like the one in Bingham would produce as much power as this transmission line would deliver. Is that a lot or a little? You decide, but this is a much more accurate comparison. How about 90 solar farms instead? 90 solar projects of the size being proposed in Farmington (75 MW) would produce the same amount of energy as NECEC would deliver. That sounds like a fantastic economic development plan for Maine!! And there is no need to site them as badly as this line; we can put them wherever there is interest among landowners and communities and it is much easier to site solar away from wetlands, etc. And remember that solar and wind in Maine are both new sources of renewable electricity; Hydro-Quebec will not be providing any new electricity via NECEC.

    His $25 billion figure for solar is bogus and it certainly bears no connection to the $1 billion price tag for this transmission line. As noted, the transmission line isn’t connected to any new power, so it is not comparable. The total cost to MA for the line plus all the power delivered over 20 years is more like $8 billion. You would need to add billions to pay for new generation needed to replace the power diverted to Massachusetts. In contrast, the cost of 90 projects like the Farmington project would be about $8 billion. That would be A) new generation, and therefore a CO2 reduction; B) way more economic activity/benefit for Maine; C) way more property tax benefits, spread all over the state. (If we are worried about land clearing for that much solar, for $14 billion it could all be rooftop solar; all of those benefits plus zero land impact!)
    Labreque takes cheap shots at Senator Woodsome for not having “a plan” . Why, this is not for Maine. But what about this: 1. Go through VT. 2. Go through NH, oh by the way they said no! TWICE. 3. Modify this plan and address the compensation and environmental concerns. Or go solar!

    There is lots of alternatives right there on the table. Other bids for HQ transmission lines actually included major mitigation benefits for those states (i.e. NH and VT); some buried the lines all the way (including one to bring down new wind from Aroostook county); and many included wind and solar in Maine and the rest of New England. It is a shame that the Governor of Maine did nothing to help any of the other bids which would have had much greater benefits for Maine, instead siding with his pals from Hydro-Quebec and Avangrid.

    - THE TRUTH IS, THE COMPANIES THAT COMPETED IN THIS RFP IN VERMONT($700 million plus)AND NEW HAMPSHIRE ($200 million) CAME TO THE TABLE WITH LOTS OF MONEY TO HELP MITIGATE THE IMPACT THAT THOSE PROJECTS WOULD HAVE ON THEIR STATES. This money was to be DEDICATED TO CONSERVATION, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, TOURISM, ETC... CMP HASN’T COME TO THE TABLE LIKE THAT. They have admitted adding an equal amout would have made their bid potentially uncompetitive. SO BEFORE THEY BUILD THIS LINE, Lets MAKE SURE THAT LOCAL MUNICIPALITIES IN Franklin County AND ELSEWHERE KNOW THAT THEY SHOULD BE ASKING CMP LOTS MORE QUESTIONS. Does Mr. Dunphy want us to walk away from this?

    Finally, Mr. Dunphy is right…. Follow the $$$. CMP will make $60 million, $60 million per year in pure profit. Maine communities, other than property tax, will get nothing. However, a MOU will be signed with an LLC with businesses in the Kennebec gorge area. This agreement will provide over 30 million dollars to buy their local support. Yep follow the $$.

  29. I wondered how long it would be !!! Is this you Jerry ? I think I’ve heard this type of testimony before :)
    I agree with your assessment of Mr.LeBreques number of solar panels... but I think he gave them the benefit of the doubt on capacity factors.. I would be interested in hearing your number .. since you know he is wrong , you must have that available!! The Bingham wind mess .. at full capacity your numbers may be correct, but that’s a rarity from the numbers I’m hearing . This is going to be reliable, dispatchable, consistent power... not the intermittent wind and solar that has been pushed the past 10 years. The “solar bills” over the past few sessions were a mess.. and no doubt a great fundraising mechanism for the NRCM.. but hopefully the citizens of Maine are realizing that the POLICY BY POZZA crowd for the most part are terming out !! WVOM 101.3 /103.9 fm had a pretty good show this morning with Savielleo.. (he tried to verbalize your talking points), and last Wednesday with Jim LaBreque .. If you go to the WVOM REWIND, it’s a pretty interesting listen !!!!

  30. Maine belongs to an electricity consortium that includes New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

    This consortium, ISO-NE, oversees the amount of electricity flows throughout the six states, assuring electricity is available to every outlet, everywhere, all the time.

    ISO-NE has nothing to do with generation selection, whether it be nuclear, natural gas. coal, oil, hydro, wind, biomass or solar.

    In an ideal situation, the percentages of each type of generation would be consumer driven, based on price and value.

    It isn't like that at all, despite the fact that ISO-NE has set up a competitive market based on value pricing.

    State Legislatures have circumvented this market with ancillary market techniques that give huge economic advantages to pet generation, mainly wind, solar, biomass and storage batteries, These types of energies provide very small contributions at very high costs, Most everyone is intuitively aware of this, but intellectuals have powerful propaganda used to steer public policy.

    Also, intuitively, folks understand what the term "bullying" means.

    Those with more influence on a situation can "bully" their way to desired outcomes upon those with less influence and combined with the legitimacy to distort markets, an extremely unfair circumstance exists in New England.

    Such is the situation Maine finds itself in.

    Maine's consumption of electricity within the regional market is 8%, Very little influence. Compounding this disadvantage is the fact our summer weather is much cooler than Southern New England where air conditioners are used, skyrocketing the demand for electricity, which, in turn, skyrockets electricity prices throughout the entire New England Region.

    Southern New England Legislatures are making it mandatory that large percentages of their local and statewide electricity come from high cost renewables. As party to the regional electric network, Maine land is exploited for installation of such renewables.

    The ordinary sounding term used to advance renewable build-out outside of the "bullying" state is the " power purchase agreement ", granting the bully the power to disregard fair market rules. It is the worst kind of government ever forced upon the citizenry, and blunts Maine's opportunity for economic and entrepreneurial growth. Maine has to little electricity consumption influence to reciprocate.

    The NECEC ( New England Clean Energy Connect ) project may actually be a chance for payback to the "bully".

    It adds no wind machines, land eating solar panels, or expensive biomass within the state. It deliveries only hydro power to Lewiston, Maine, feeding power to the grid at a starting point favorable to Maine, while being paid by state utilities in Massachusetts at above market prices confined to payment by Massachusetts' electricity buyers, i.e. " Power Purchase Agreement "

    The power from NECEC adds enough electricity to more than provide Maine's needs and it isn't taking up huge chunks of land adding extraordinary electricity prices.

    It also creates an opportunity to escape the "bully" regime, where Maine can connect to our neighbors to the North to enter a energy pool that assures us a reliability that is, otherwise, iffy, at best, by remaining in the New England Pool dominated by distorted market manipulations, environmental antagonists, and propagandists.

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