Franklin Countys First News

A few reasons Maine needs to reject the NECEC corridor

As Mainers become educated and aware of the NECEC project, more and more people are realizing it’s a bad idea. Here are a few thoughts on what proponents of the corridor like to talk about, and why they’re wrong.

Corridor Proponents: The power line will only affect .05 percent of the North Woods.

Reality: 53 miles of new transmission line corridor, 150 feet wide, will be carved out of one of the last remaining large wilderness areas on the east coast ... at first. The corridor can be widened another 150 feet in the future to install a second line. Industrial wind turbines, access roads, and further development will inevitably follow. Herbicides will be used to keep vegetation in check, threatening waterways and rare native Brook trout. Mainers and those who love to visit understand that once this development begins, it will not be undone, and it will permanently mar Maine’s natural heritage.

Corridor Proponents: If the approval agencies deem the project safe and good for Maine, and then the project is shut down by a citizen’s vote, that sends a bad message to future investors about the reliability of the investment process in Maine.

Reality: A rejection of NECEC by a citizens referendum does the exact opposite to future investors and to our approval process: it sends a clear message that all major investment must be 100 percent transparent and in the overall best interest of Mainers, because we are watching, we aren’t ignorant, and we care about our state.
When CMP launched their campaign they said NECEC was supported by almost every town along the corridor. Those towns one by one had to organize votes proving that they did not, in fact, support the project. NECEC was being sold to Mainers through false advertising. The ultimate rejection of this project would tell businesses to be honest from the beginning or you’re wasting your time and resources.

A popular vote rejecting the project would also send a message to approval agencies to do their job thoroughly.

The PUC report primarily referenced a single study (The London Econ. study) that DISCLAIMED ITSELF from being a thorough review of the environmental and economic aspects of the project. The London Econ study is cited again and again in the PUC’s support of NECEC with little other scientific input while rejecting contradicting evidence and Brownie Carson’s bill (LD 640) to have a more complete study.

The ultimate rejection of NECEC would raise a very important question: might our approval agencies need to align themselves more with Mainers and less with big business? And that perhaps the current process in place for major business investment in Maine is, dare anyone whisper … flawed? One wonders how cozy the PUC is with CMP after issuing a $10 million fine for their massive over billing errors, immediately followed by a $17 million rate hike approval.

We do want investment in our state, but we want it to be transparent and honest from the get go, and we want our approval agencies to acknowledge that Mainers care deeply about our natural heritage, and decisions regarding “public need” should align with what the public would vote for.

Corridor Proponents: NECEC will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take the equivalent of 700,000 cars off the road.

Reality: No, it won’t, and Brownie Carson’s bill (LD 640) to have a thorough study done on the affect of greenhouse gas emissions by NECEC was shot down by CMP lobbyists. Hydro Quebec’s system of 63 dams has collectively flooded an area the size of New Hampshire, millions of tons of decomposing vegetation is releasing potent greenhouse gases into the atmosphere year after year, so how “green” is this energy to begin with? In addition, all the power being produced is already being used, it will just be redirected to the New England grid leaving places like New York and Ontario to utilize fossil fuel peaking plants to meet their demand. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul. Globally, NECEC would have a net zero effect on climate change and could do more harm than good.

Corridor Proponents: The NECEC infrastructure is going to add a major tax base to towns along the corridor.

Reality: While this might be the strongest and ONLY reason to support NECEC, remember CMP has a history of over estimating the pre-construction taxable value of its infrastructure to win over supporters, and immediately after construction aggressively re-appraising the value at lower rates to decrease their tax liability. They will do this year after year, repeating the process to whittle down their tax liability. NECEC will be no different.

Corridor Proponents: NECEC will create thousands of full time jobs for Mainers.

Reality: The construction phase of the project is expected to last about two years. The number of jobs estimated went from 3,200 to 1,600, and there is no guarantee those jobs will go to Mainers or how long they will last. Following construction, the total number of full time jobs resulting from NECEC will be a whopping 38, while simultaneously decimating the biomass industry in Maine. Franklin county alone would see a loss of 200 jobs should NECEC proceed.

Corridor Proponents: NECEC will provide a necessary power influx to the New England grid, especially with Pilgrim nuclear station shutting down.

Reality: This is not the case but if it was, send it underground through Vermont where it’s already permitted! NECEC is an Elective Transmission Upgrade to ISO New England, not a Reliability Upgrade. Maine is a net exporter of electricity, and ISO NE is currently oversupplied with lots of solar and offshore wind coming. Massachusetts had over 40 competing bids to choose from for this injection of so called “green” power. NECEC power to New England is not necessary, already has a permitted path if it was, and is one of dozens of options for more energy.

There are plenty of other talking points to set straight, like how the $258 million over 40 years payoff to Maine translates to a few cents per month per CMP customer, or how NECEC will choke out Maine based renewable energy projects, or how the entire prospect of a Spanish owned company controlling Canadian power that feeds the New England grid doesn’t exactly bolster our national security. During hot and dry summer weather, fires that might issue from the high voltage lines in sparsely populated areas could be disastrous, as happened with PG&E in California recently.

In the end NECEC is a terrible deal for Maine. Come November, Maine voters will have a chance to say so. Anyone in a position of elected power who might cast influence on this project would do well to align themselves with that vote.

Troy Hull

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27 Responses »

  1. People want investment in the state, as long as that investment is not in their part of the state, it has nothing to do with transparency. A company in Belfast wants to expand its salmon fishery, the biggest complaint is aesthetics, Walmart wanted to come to Damriscotta, biggest complaint, aesthetics, Cabela's wanted to come to Somerset county, biggest complaint, aesthetics, the NECEC biggest complaint, aesthetics.

    People love to pick apart that there has been no EIS done, the opposition hasn't done one either. What if any impact on free flowing water will the spraying of herbicides 30ft from them will have on aquatic life? How will the drilling of holes for posts impact the free flow of water? Anybody who has looked at a map knows that area is far from intact and pristine, so that dog just doesn't hunt.

    Something for the green energy people, let's say somebody wants to invest in a another 30 turbine wind farm in western Maine and construct a 54mi long corridor to Moscow to supply the power to the grid station in Pittsfield to supply the grid which will have less economical effect on the state and ratepayers than the NECEC will, would that be more to your liking?

    Again with the foreign company, if you are that fearful of foreign things, never buy another vehicle, because they ALL contain parts made by foreign companies, Harley Davidson motorcycles contain parts made in Japan, so much for that whole "Made in the USA" thing. get rid of all your electronic stuff, 99% of it was made by a foreign company, you have to run around bare, most of the clothes today are made in foreign countries and people think foreign owned companies doing business in a foreign country is bad, I guess thousands of Asians are going to lose their job, because a few Mainers think countries doing business with foreign companies is bad. No more Hanes, they are made in Thailand with cloth and thread made in China by companies Hanes doesn't own.

    People who say they support investment in Maine but don't support the NECEC, that level of hypocrisy is, indescribable.

  2. While many Mainers come to this debate with the intention of conducting honest debate we can not rule out the possibility that some do not. It is a real possibility that some engage in this debate in an effort to weaken the governor and party that must now defend a proposal that gained approval without facing such scrutiny while the opposition party was in power. Behind the scenes there may also be a struggle between those who wish to see the fossil fuel industries portion of the energy market grow. (The closure of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in June of 2019 left a sizable portion of the energy market up for grabs just as this debate was catching fire.)

    By dissecting the proposal to transmit hydroelectric energy through Maine in a vacuum opponents of the project can argue for the continued use of fossil fuels in providing for those energy needs without actually doing so. We saw the same tactic used when opponents of wind power argued that the skyline would be ruined by the installation of wind turbines. In fact, so much of this argument centers on the notion that our view will be destroyed by the power lines in question it is hard to believe that some of the same forces aren't behind it.

    Maine used hydroelectricity and forestry to build several industries without facing the kind of scrutiny this project faces. At a time when industry more often leaves Maine than it arrives I honestly find it bizarre that so many wish to say no to such investment. We appear content to sacrifice a fraction of our environment to modernize communications networks in Maine, and I'm sure the trees stripped to install power lines will be utilized by existing industry, so I honestly fail to see why so many argue against the modernization of our energy infrastructure. We don't exactly have companies clamoring to bring guaranteed tax revenue to Maine as CMP is with this project either.

  3. The people rule not the government. The agency's that granted permits for this project are using a set standard for their approval. For this project "the people" are saying it is not what "we" want. Subsequently their reason, rules or personal approval are not necessary to curb building this power line.

  4. A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city.

    The whole shady deal offends my sense of being upfront and reeks of back room dealings.

    I vote NO.

  5. HB - just for the record - this is NOT about aesthetics, it's about corporate arrogance and willful compliance with the State government. And suggesting that opponents should fund an EIS instead of the applicant is truly a laughable moment. What you fail to consider in your narrow remarks is the fact that Maine gets pretty much NOTHING for having its land used as an extension cord conduit 300 ft wide and treated with herbicides - btw your comment about herbicides is exceptionally funny and ridiculous. Probably intentional on your part for comic relief or just to see who is paying attention, but truly sensational in its deadly irony. You might know that cmp is now under investigation again - this time for violating a Maine state law regarding crossing public lands. At any rate, perhaps opponents of NECEC just don't want it for various reasons. And, they/we are actually doing something about it. Imagine that.

    DO - guess you weren't around for the Dickey-Lincoln project, or the Big A? Sure, trees stripped will be used - but how are the locals and beyond going to use up 70,000-100,000 cords-equivalent in a couple of years? Most of those in the industry state openly that this will kill the biomass business in this region. 3500-5000 loads of wood taken away in an accelerated rate. Anyone who states that this is about aesthetics doesn't really care to understand really what's at stake here. The choice isn't really about fossil fuel v hydro; it's about getting this rammed down our throats with little compensation and having the corruption oozing from the gov's office on down. You obviously know very little about the facts and yet think that you have your finger on the pulse. Read up and get involved and become part of the solution.

  6. We had to remove dams and hydro power because it was bad for the environment.
    Why are we supporting it elsewhere?
    Isn't that like don't pollute here but do it somewhere else ?

  7. Ozerki, The herbicides and water thing is actually state and federal law, no spraying of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides over water or within 25ft of a body of water. I just used 30ft as the buffer.

    And why wouldn't the opp want to do their own EIS, talking points are nothing. proof is everything.

  8. Don't believe this argument has any basis on the impact of industry "growth" in Maine. While I do classify this as green energy, Maine has been doing away with their hydo "green" energy for years so I do not support this public classification to justify the right. This energy will be exported thru Maine. It will bottle neck the grid and most likely drive the price to produce electricity in Maine down to the point where it is no longer profitable to produce and living wage paying jobs will be lost. It is a great idea and Mass needs it...find another way.

  9. The New England grid is undergoing monumental changes. Follow posts by ISO-NE, the New England grid operator, and you find the difficulty in implementing wind and solar into a network that demands reliability. You will also come to understand how state sponsored electricity generators ( such as wind and solar) forces reliable generation from the grid. The New England grid has lost nuclear power plants as they became uneconomical to run when stacked against subsidized, intermittent wind and solar.     Here in Maine, wind power has replaced natural gas generation. If you are a climate change advocate supporting renewable resources, that probably pleases you. The issue with this is the replacement of reliable electricity with unreliable electricity, which brings us back to the New England grid, a technological wonder that Maine shares with the other five New England states. When the wind doesn't blow and/or the sun isn't shining, Maine draws power from other resources throughout New England. We share, because it keeps the lights on. Maine does not generate so much power that it exports it or creates a constant flow out of state. Electricity is always fluctuating as flow comes into the state and flow goes out of the state. We are dependent on out of state generation and other states are dependent on us.     HB is spot on. This investment will mean more to the economics of Maine that all the rhetoric coming out of Augusta, the disdain for foreign companies, or all the tourists dollars captured in a small, remote portion of Maine. All paid for by out of state utility customers to improve regional, electricity service .,Maine, as a partner, has promised our cooperation. Shoot down this project at your own peril, the New England Grid is undergoing monumental changes. It can turn out good or it can turn out bad. 

  10. Ozerki - A survey completed in 2017 by the USDA found that "Maine contains and estimated 17.6 million acres of forest land. While the numbers you've used (70,000 - 100,000 cords) appear large a quick conversion to acres reveals that they represent a tiny fraction of Maine's forest land (25.7 - 36.7 acres). As the government says, this project will indeed effect less than 0.0005 percent of the Maine woods. According to the same source, approximately 345,000 acres of forest land were harvested that year. The harvest is to take place over the course of several years. Assuming that happens at a constant rate over 10 years, we are looking at increasing the harvest by only 0.001 percent. In the unlikely event that the harvest were to take place in on year the harvest would only increase by 0.01 percent. Neither increase is going to devastate the markets the harvest will contribute to.

  11. Clayton - Electric grids around the world are experiencing these changes. There are problems that engineers will have to work at, as always, but none which can't be overcome. The grid we rely upon is capable of producing more energy than is required during periods of peak consumption, meaning it is designed to handle reduced input from any source, including fossil fuel driven power plants which also go down from time to time. No energy source is reliable, that's another reason why electric grids include a buffer. As far as natural gas is concerned, it isn't clean energy. Recent research has shown that the use of natural gas contributes at least as much to global warming as other fossil fuels because methane is released in recovery. The same research found that we will exceed 2 degrees of global warming if only the currently developed natural gas resources are utilized. When that happens we begin to see the worst of what climate change has to offer. Those changes are going to impact our economy as well as our lives.

  12. We are simply between those who make it and those who use it. They would rather spend no money on us at all. And dont even get me started on property taxes. If you got a view of the ocean you pay more, if you got a view of Rangeley Lake you pay more. So if you got a view of a great big power line do you get a tax break? I dont think so. And as far as these vast tracts of land being private property,technically yes but these lands have been on corporate welfare for years with their tree growth programs which is nothing but a subsidy. You would hear the whining on top of MT.Washington if they had to pay the same taxes I do. This does not even count the developing of a Forestry Dept. because they got tired of paying to put out their own fires. You want the real corporate attitude,I can give it to you in a nutshell and here it is"We do not care what you done for us yesterday we allready paid you for that. What are you going to do for us today?" I promise you this is the mindset you are dealing with. So CMP. What are you going to do for us now? Maine people can be to easy going. I have been giving the massive debts all these power companies have developed on paper some though and it makes perfect sense. What better firewall against any kind of take over can you get for a company that can not go out of business then a huge debt on paper and stockholders to pay. If we dont start getting a handle on the How-What-Why of power in our state future Mainers will pay the price.

  13. Not wilderness, but logged off many times. An aerial map reveals a corridor laced with old and new logging roads. Wilderness, maybe a little rest is paper trees.

  14. Fact: Québec hydropower is one of the cleanest sources of power in the world. It’s not Hydro-Québec that says it, it’s the International Reference Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services, a university chair that studies life cycle analysis:

    Fossil fuels emit 50 to 70 times more greenhouse gas than hydropower. Reality: they’re the ones footing the bigger part of the bill for the opposition effort, in order to protect the profits they make from running their smokestacks - to the demise of our future generations and our natural environment.

  15. HydroQuebec, should you be trying to influence a Maine referendum? Maybe not, but since you, are I have a couple questions for you.
    1) Why were you not at the table for all the meetings with the DEP, PUC, LUPC, ACE etc.? The answer is that you will say what you will in the news and on paid television propaganda, but you are unwilling to make the same claims UNDER OATH> because you know they do not hold up to legal scrutiny. Your absence during the hearings and presence during the PR campaign says it all.
    2) I have studied the clean power claims and have come to the opposite conclusion as you did. Now lets see, who might tend to be biased. Me, who wants the best for Maine, or HydroQuebec who stands to make millions per month. (and did I mention they refuse to make their claims under oath?)
    3) So now you are going to try and discredit our say no movement by saying fossil fuels are footing our bills? Tell that to me and the hundreds of people, like me, who just gathered 75k signatures, in 3 months. Tell that to the people who organized and went to town meetings and educated towns all along the corridor, where towns like Wilton voted 162-1 in opposition to the corridor. Because we became educated.
    4) Your destruction of the homes and traditional lands of the first nation peoples is criminal. Your huge reservoirs no longer sequester carbon, emit methane and are killing the gulf of Maine slowly. These are terrible facts.
    The CMP/AVANGRID/IBERDOLA trifecta has ZERO grassroots support, and plenty of nasty business associated with your corporate practices. Go away HQ, we know your gig.

  16. Maine has not been an "net exporter of electricity" in years.

    The quarter billion dollar benefit package for Maine is a great deal. It was negotiated by multiple parties (opponents and supporters) of the project when it was clear the project was going to pass all the tests for PUC approval. The result will be enough money to radically transform how Maine heats buildings and drives vehicles. Those are by far the major emitters of CO2 in Maine, while Maine's electricity is among the cleanest in the nation. The negotiated settlement poises Maine as a potential leader in the country at electrification, getting us "off fossil fuels."

    Large reliable baseload power plants - not just the medium sized Pilgrim - have been retiring and being curtailed for a decade. We absolutely need this kind of 24/7 electricity that can be dispatched on demand, unless the author is in the candle business.

    If you've ever seen the Bingham Wind "Farm" you know it can be seen from all over north-central Maine, even east of I-95. You know it is 50+ turbines taller than most buildings in Boston (power lines are about 100 feet tall in low areas, while wind turbines are about 500 feet tall on ridges, with lights, noise, fire danger and motion). You know it cleared and blasted thousands of acres along its 16 mile length. Bear in mind that it needed a significant power line too. Bear in mind that to provide the equivalent power as the NECEC power line you would need to build TWENTY more Bingham wind "farms" and the transmission they would need. If you're NIMBY about the NECEC, whose back yard are you suggesting is big enough for 20 Binghams? Solar panels? You'd need millions of them to replace this power line. Bear in mind wind turbines and solar panels don't provide 24/7 dispatchable power. Again, good for the candle business.

    The hype and hysteria against the NECEC are laughable for their infantilism. There's a lot of CMP hate out there lately, and often for good reason. But the NECEC is a good, necessary and hugely beneficial project.

  17. Hydro Quebec doesn't have the available energy to send to New England without taking it from somewhere else. Here is THEIR OWN recent video urging consumers to go easy because ALL of HQ's generator stations are maxed out:

    Even if your energy WAS clean (it's not), all you're doing is taking it from existing markets and sending it to the more lucrative market in Massachusetts, blazing a superhighway through our state to do it. Fossil fuels will then make up the difference in your region, resulting in zero difference globally.

  18. Great analysis, but fact check:

    ONE of Hydro-Quebec’s 63 dams, the La Grande 2, drains 32,480 square miles. An area almost the size of Maine, to fill a reservoir of over 1,200 square miles.

    The story says HQ “collectively” uses an area the size of NH. That is off by orders of magnitude.

    The Upper Churchill dam in Labrador (HQ is part owner and has exclusive right to the power and has been using it since the 1970s) drains 27,000 square miles.

    HQ does not report the total land area it has filed, dammed and flooded over the last 100 years but it is likely 100s of thousands of square miles.

    Canadian hydro uses the most land area per unit of energy produced of any energy source. It is not clean, green or renewable.

  19. DO - first, the figures I posted are based on cmp's drawings submitted for approval to the puc. The total clearcut will be ~3500 acres. Because of the region sited for the corridor is woodland (not clearcut or field) one can expect a stocking of at least 20-30 cords/acre depending on what one might select as 'merchantable' and for a clearcut such as this the merchantable size will probably be 4-5" dbh or even less. So, calculate 3500 acres x 20-30 cords per acre and voila. Your analogy is typical of some of the proponents. I liken it to an accountant with one foot in a pot of boiling water and the other on a block of ice - someone asks: how are you and the accountant responds "on the average, perfect". Sure, let's factor in 3500 acres into the entire cutover acreage in the entire state of Maine.

    HQ - laughable - it's been proven that HQ is approximately as 'clean' as a coal-fired plant so let's not go there - think methane and methyl mercury if you have doubts. You people who continue with this 'clean energy' crap get tiresome. Don't you pay attention to REAL research?

    HB - try reading "Our Stolen Future" (Theo Colborn) then get back to me about herbicides etc. They are pervasive and enter all groundwater. 3000 feet would not be enough. Applicants either pay or are compelled to pay for an EIS.

  20. On last nights news, they showed a company that had been closed for quite awhile, now open and running full tilt, to make the "road" from logs that will be used to help protect the environment from the heavy equipment. Loggers have been able to sell their product to this there has been a huge difference in employment from this project, and it hasn't even gotten off the ground yet. Once this starts, there will be many many more jobs for local people.
    Maybe it will offset the 200 laid off from LL Bean, and the almost 100 from Wayfare. This state is hurting for jobs, this project has already produced HB said...this state cannot grow and become prosperous unless we move into the future...

  21. Suzie no one is saying there won’t be jobs produced from this but all but 38 will only be temporary ie construction phase. Not to mention the 200+ lost from biomass plants once the grid is congested. Running more lines won’t make us better off as far as the grid goes. Does anyone remember the spokesman from CMP claiming in 40 years this li e will be rolled back up onto wire reels and the poles removed? Ya don’t believe anything from CMP.

  22. @Troy Hull, the video you are referring to is a public awareness campaign from Hydro-Québec (HQ) Distribution which serves our customers in Québec. There is a difference between HQ Distribution’s available energy and HQ Production’s reserves or surplus capacity. Put simply, it’s as though each division has its power bank, or pool. The first, for HQ Distribution, covers needs in Quebec: residential, commercial, institutional and industrial customers.

    HQ Distribution’s power pool is the Québec Heritage Pool. It is established at 165 TWh/year. This clip is about efficient management of that pool of energy for Québec customers.

    We have ample amounts of excess energy for exports. As we’ve stated on numerous occasions, HQ Production has over 40 TWh annually to provide to its exterior markets. HQ Production consistently maintains its contracted export deliveries as well as wholesale deliveries to our neighboring markets, including during the winter season and winter peaks.

  23. Should Hydro-Quebec, owned by the province of Quebec, be attempting to influence a Maine referendum? And why are they willing to post in the press but refused to testify under oath at any hearings? Think about it people, you are being played for cash.

  24. Hydro Quebec why not just upgrade the line you already have running to Mass. ?

  25. @Awww The line you are referring to, commonly known as Phase II, has a technical capacity of 2,000 MW. Often, this line is considered as the first contingent in the New England electricity market, which means that if for any reason (mechanical failure for example), the line trips, ISO-NE would not be able to compensate the loss of such high volume of energy. This is why, currently, that operational capacity if often limited to 1400MW.

    Currently, there is no technology that would allow an upgrade to this line to be able to flow an additional 1090 MW into New England – that would mean a line of over 3,000 MW! Also, such a line would be subjected to the same reliability constraint as the current line.

  26. @HydroQuebec

    Members of a legislative committee voted Tuesday to endorse a bill to require the state to cancel and potentially renegotiate a lease on a strip of public land along Central Maine Power’s corridor for a proposed transmission line through Western Maine.

    No lease, no CMP Corridor. What’s next? CMP and their threat of eminent domain?

    I just want to inform you that the political stakes seem
    to be getting higher in Maine’s neck of the woods.

    You may think Hydro-Quebec, that you can influence a Maine Citizens Referendum with your money.
    But for future reference, you won’t be able to influence our upcoming political elections.

    Maine politicians take note. Hydro-Quebec could really give a “dam” if you’re re-elected. Just as long as they get their billions....

    Give it up Hydro-Quebec. You’re all washed up. We don’t want you, nor CMP, in our state.