Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: In support of hydroelectric power

The arguments made by those who oppose the NECEC, which will allow hydroelectric power to be transmitted through Maine, are packed with exaggeration and wrong thinking. To see this you need look no further than to their opening argument, which asked you to imagine how you’d feel if a Jersey Turnpike size swath were cut through a pristine forest. This fantasy came complete with the kind of electrical towers Godzilla tore apart while fighting other freakishly large monsters in the “Creature Double Features” that aired on Channel 12 in the 1980’s. From the start this argument was designed to elicit a visceral response, much like those movies.

Cut to the argument that asks you to assume that hydroelectric facilities do more damage to the environment than fossil fuels. It relies on research taken out of context, asking you to apply findings related to new megadam projects in China to those constructed decades ago in Quebec. What they don’t tell you is that these facilities were constructed in compliance with far better environmental regulations and that the negative impacts cited as a reason for concern decline over time, or as these facilities are run near peak capacity. For instance, the methane released as vegetation flooded by these projects decays begins to resemble those produced by natural bodies of water within decades.

The truth is there’s no perfect energy source. Solar panels require mining operations that do a lot of damage to the environment. If you want to store that energy you’re going to have to mine rare earth metals that are particularly toxic. Burn fossil fuels and you emit a number of chemicals that have been linked to cancer. Natural gas is composed almost entirely of methane, which is 18 times more potent than carbon dioxide is in terms of warming. In fact, so much of it leaks from the wellheads that extract it, the pipelines that carry it, and the tanks that store it experts say it may cause more warming than other fossil fuels. And, unlike those methane emissions produced by hydroelectric facilities, these will not decline so long as natural gas is utilized.

Finally, we have those who argue that CMP will somehow send more money overseas if they replace the energy generated from natural gas acquired from the Caribbean, Middle East, and Russia with energy generated from resources found in Canada. This is absolutely ridiculous and, as with all of these arguments is born of the desire to besmirch this project and nothing else. The fact is, if CMP does buy electricity from Quebec Hydro, it will be spending money that is currently sent overseas in Maine, New Brunswick, and Quebec. This is clearly more likely to improve our economic situation than harm it.

It’s time for us to come to our senses. For 50 years we have sought to reduce pollution by replacing dirty fossil fuels burning power plants with those that rely on natural resources. In that time we have turned down any number of projects that would have done this because they weren’t quite as perfect as we would like them to be. Rather than make some improvement, we have repeatedly chosen to make no improvement. That’s what the opposition is arguing for, whether they realize it or not. If they defeat this there is nothing better waiting in the wings, just dreams of what might be done.

Jamie Beaulieu

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22 Responses »

  1. Hey Jamie,

    Thanks for clarifying that the hydro-electric power will be transferred through Maine,
    not to Maine. Which means the Corridor is not necessary for Maine.
    That’s something we NO folks have know for quite sometime.

  2. Hey Terry;, How do ya feel about the trucks from Quebec hauling lumber from Quebec down Route 27.. also seen em on Route 4 between Jay and Auburn... I see several going south every day... Have seen em on Maine Turnpike and down through Mass. and beyond.. They are contributing to the destruction of or roads.. Think we should ban em and make em go trough Vermont?

  3. I forgot to add that the Iroquois benefit from the facilities in question. A few years back I reconnected with a Marine and member of that nation with whom I served. He and other members of that nation constructed a number of the facilities in question. While their experiences may not be universal, they do make it clear that not all First Nations peoples oppose these projects either, as has been suggested. Much of the land in question was in fact leased with the okay of tribal leaders who have the support of their communities.

  4. If Hydro power is so good why did we remove dams here?
    It is like pollute somewhere else making what I want.

  5. Pretty evident that Mr. Beaulieu is in deep with the Spanish/Canadian/Mass Political cartel's view of things. His argument that redirecting Quebec hydro through Maine to Mass will somehow prevent natural gas purchases from Russia are ludicrous. What it would do if it became reality ( it won't, BTW), is eliminate more Maine biomass jobs by far than would be created by slashing a swath through our state to appease misguided Massachusetts politicians while lining the pockets of Spanish Iberdrola's execs and their Qatari investors. And yes, a few of Maine's political elitists would be enriched for their part in forcing it on Maine's citizens.

    The bottom line is that this proposed boondoggle has nothing to do with the environment or helping Mainers, and everything to do with easy money at the cost of our woodlands.

  6. Glen,

    Totally irrelevant. In the words of Hrtlss....
    Get a hobby, read a book, move on.

  7. Jamie, you have outdone yourself this time with all of your misinformation. Where do you get this 'stuff'? The corridor Right-of-Way will be 300 feet wide - that IS the approximate width of the NJ turnpike - so where's the lie or subterfuge in that statement? Many of us know that the forested area is not pristine and has been actively logged, but the salient point to this 'argument' is that the 300 FOOT WIDE corridor will fragment one of the largest intact tracts of forested land east of the Mississippi.

    About hydro power - you are actually quite misinformed and are wrong with your statement about dams, particularly HQ. All of us in the opposition have continually relied on SCIENCE and peer-reviewed research that has taken place over the past 10-15 years ...... these dams and their associated vast shallow lakes are on par with coal-fired power plants. Ask Dr. Bradford Hager of MIT, or Dr. David Schindler from the University of Alberta - but of course you won't because it will douse water on the fire you are trying to build.

    Please cite your claim about methane dissipating from these impoundments - maybe over 300 years. And you forgot about the methyl mercury that has seeped into the drinking water supply for the indigenous tribes who are dealing with cancers and other serious illness caused by the chemicals 'breeding' in the shallow waters of these vast shallow lakes.

    The paragraph where you try to make some point about sending money overseas ....... huh? This makes so sense even with several readings. The fact: Iberdrola is a Spanish Company and THEY will make a pile of money from this project. They are the parent company of CMP and cmp must do what it's told. The fact: Maine's economic benefit will be about 35 CENTS a month for ratepayers and will have 3500 acres of woodland slaughtered and treated with herbicides. The fact: Maine is a NET exporter of power right now. Another nice touch is the fact that HQ already have a route to MA but wants another so that they can maximize profits by selecting the most profitable route through which to send power to MA.

    The time is at hand to tell big business to take a hike and let Mainers decide whether this corridor should be built. I prefer relying on the people of Maine rather than 3 guys from MPUC, one guy from MDEP and one or two others who will remain nameless for now. This corridor is more about corruption, greed, and profits - be reminded this is a FOR-PROFIT project. If you are going to continue to write letters like this the least you can do is get it right. We in the opposition use facts to defend our positions. All you and the others have is a bunch of stale talking points and opinions based on nothing more than your own personal beliefs. That's NOT science.

  8. Last line:

    "If they defeat this there is nothing better waiting in the wings, just dreams of what might be done."

    Massachusetts can still choose to get the exact same hydro power coming down through Vermont instead of Maine having to deal with the environmental damage for years to come with virtually no benefit to us.

  9. This is what happens to what happens to TREES, another word for "wood chips".
    If you think "biomass" is a better, cleaner form of energy, you've been as hoodwinked as I was.
    Wonder what Sen. Bernie Sanders says about the biomass plants in his state of Vermont. And what does the Green New Deal consider "renewables"? I'd recommend watching to the very end (heartbreaking), thru the credits as there's post-film info. given. Disillusioned? Yes, I am!

    This is a documentary that explodes the illusions of cleaner, greener, renewable energy.
    You can start at approx. min. 52:40 about "biomass".

    Planet of the Humans

  10. Terry......In my words...... you get a book , play with the dog, get a hobby or go mow the lawn.. Get a life other than tell someone else what they need.. Lots of things happening in Maine that aren't necessary... Wal Marts, big supermarkest, Irving Oil, Home Depots, Shopping Centers that have paved over much land then go belly up.. You should get outside and smell the roses... good for ya..

  11. To make a rational decision about this line, one must learn how electricity is marketed and placed in service so that everyone is assured of the quantity and quality they expect when they call for it. 

    Electricity just doesn't happen, it must travel through sophisticated, engineered networks operated by highly trained people.

    These network engineers must consider the type of generation ( can it be called upon at any given moment ?  Is it of constant production, 24/7/365 ? Is it available only at certain times ? When will maintenance shutdowns occur ? )

    Together with these variables, the network engineer must anticipate electricity demand in every area of New England by the minute. 

    New England energy policies are changing dramatically. Government is calling on renewables such as wind and solar to replace fossil fuels.Network engineers are scrambling to keep up with these intermittent resources with new market rules where we all make premium payments to secure reliability amidst growing unreliable resources.

    Just as a reliable worker is far more valuable to an employer, a reliable source of electricity is far more valuable to a sustainable habitat. 

    When such a reliable resource is being paid by someone else, yet delivered in Maine,we should rejoice and welcome it. Network engineers will sweat much less.  

  12. Marie,

    If you ask the Inuit natives why the Eider Ducks wayyyy up north where they live are dying, it's because of the Hydro Dams changing the water temp enough to effect the ice flows. The ducks drown because they can't resurface as usual.
    The Massive Dams absolutely do change things.

    However, We Humans have to live here too.
    That's why the Inuit kill the Eider Duck.
    For survival.

    Humans do what we need to do.

    However,,we don't need this scam corridor in any way shape or firm.
    Its a bad deal and a lie.

  13. Marie E. - you are comparing apples and oranges. And you are talking about stand alone biomass plants ...... First we solve THIS corridor problem, meaning that it's a mess and dirty. Then we talk about other approaches. This IS NOT for Maine anyway, so what is the problem? We are just AN EXTENSION CORD. If it goes through we get nothing except a huge gash, tainted water and more money for Spain. If it doesn't we get nothing and avoid the gash. It really is that simple.

  14. Jamie,

    The proposed power corridor would not provide electricity to CMP. Massachusetts is the buyer for this electricity. As others have said, this proposed line does not benefit Maine. Any financial benefit to Maine ratepayers will be minimal. The Maine Public Utilities Commission forgot, or ignored their mandate to approve only projects that had a direct benefit to, and fill a need for, the people of Maine.

    The Maine Department of Environmental Protection failed to follow standard project review protocols during their review. They should have considered the environmental impact of not allowing the project as well as comparing the environmental impact of the route through Maine to other proposed routes. Had they done this review properly they would have seen that not allowing the corridor would have the least impact to the environment as a whole, continued fossil fuel use to produce electricity vs removal of sequestered carbon, and eliminating the potential to sequester more.

    There are a minimum of three other potential routes for this line:
    1. Expand existing corridor that brings DC power from HQ to MA
    2. Utilize the permitted route through VT, which incidentally would be mostly buried and have much less environmental impact than the proposed route through Maine
    3. Piggy back a proposed corridor from HQ to New York City. An extension of that corridor could be created through the western mountains of MA, and impact the state that will actually be buying and using the electricity
    Any one of those routes would be better for the environment than the one through Maine. Both the MPUC and MDEP have failed to do their jobs, necessitating Maine people to take control of this process, as is our Constitutional right and obligation. When our government and governmental agencies fail to do the right thing we need to take power back.

    Tony also has a very good point. If hydro power is so great, why are hydro dams illegal in Maine? Dams in general are frowned upon and are being decommissioned and removed all across Maine. We should make a choice, either dams are good, or they are not. If hydro power is good, let’s form a coalition here in Maine to build hydroelectric dams and sell our electricity to MA. This would keep all of the billions HQ and and Avangrid are expecting to earn on this proposal right here in Maine.

  15. Clayton,

    You make it sound like Maine is a huge beneficiary here.
    Maine is not.

    The reliable resource you speak of is not being delivered to Maine. That is not the function of this project. It is passing through Maine with very little benefit to our state. The damage this project will create outweighs any mitigation monies or benefits CMP and their parent companies offer.

    We’re not asking to be the chosen ones to save New England. We’re asking for this project to go elsewhere.
    Vermont is ready and willing to satisfy Massachusetts green energy mandate. Massachusetts should look at the risk of their mandate not being met here in this state and choose Vermont.

  16. Ozerki, Here are the requirements from the new order in regards to the permit that was just issued to CMP.

    Corridor Width: Originally proposed to be 150 feet, the order limits the cleared width of the new, Segment 1 corridor to 54 feet at its widest point, limiting visual and habitat impacts.
    Wildlife Areas: In particularly vulnerable habitat areas covering approximately 14 miles along the 53.5 mile Segment 1 corridor, the order requires preservation of natural forest canopy or trees at least 35 feet tall across the corridor, protecting wildlife, wildlife movement, and rare plant species.
    Deer Habitat: The order requires the conservation of more than 700 acres of deer wintering area and the preservation of soft wood deer travel corridors across the transmission corridor in an important deer wintering area along the Kennebec River.
    Herbicide Use: Herbicide use is prohibited throughout Segment 1 of the corridor. The draft order also requires substantial natural resource compensation for the projects remaining impacts, including:
    Conservation: CMP is required to conserve 40,000 acres in western Maine permanently. The conserved lands may be open to commercial forestry utilizing sustainable harvesting practices.
    Stream Crossing Improvements: CMP must set aside $1,875,000 for culvert replacement projects, which will enhance fish habitat by facilitating passage, reducing erosion, and improving water quality.

    You know Ozerki, if you are going to be against something, you can at least stay up to date on that something.

  17. Yes, the corridor width in Segment 1 will be cut down to 54 ft.
    85 -100 ft monopoles should compliment that width reduction, right? Get real....

    Oh, and has anyone seen in writing what method will be used to get rid of the vegetation in Segment 1? The last AVANGRID spokesperson l spoke with said basically they had no plan.

  18. Can we get one thing correct ?  The electricity from the NECEC will be made in Canada,The electricity will provide a electrical potential in the transmission lines from Canada to where it terminates in Lewiston Maine, period. 

    Maine has first access to this potential at the Lewiston substation, period

    NECEC will compete with other generation sources in New England, period 

    The electrical potential will be a firm 1200 megawatts, period

    Maine's  use of all or part of this potential depends on factors instituted by ISO-NE and Maine, period

    ISO-NE uses a competitive market approach in selecting generation resources to use at any given moment, Other physical factors  include LINE LOSS ( the greater length the electrical potential must maintain, the greater the loss)  and CONGESTION ( the greater the electrical potential occurring at one spot, the greater the congestion and some generation may be curtailed at such spots ) period

    The electrical potential from NECEC gives Maine a foot up to increasing it"s manufacturing base, adding jobs and wealth, period

    The two separate entities of generation and transmission structures are being paid by Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island ratepayers, period

    The wholesale offering price of the electricity from NECEC will  lower the overall wholesale price, period

    NECEC will be a definite benefit for Maine.

  19. Clayton,

    You talk as if the NECEC is going to happen. It’s not, period.

    Here’s why.

    It’s gone political.

    Think about that....

  20. Clayton you need to actually pay attention how this is going to work. Yes Maine will have access to the power but only Mass gets it at a reduced contracted price. Our price has already been promised an increase by the PUC ! Maine gets an eyesore plus increased supply that in turn only costs us more money. Electric car charging stations for the few cars we see on the road. The only ones making out on this is Janet and CMP owners.

  21. Jamie,

    To refute, certain first nation "leaders" have been bought off to support $$ from HQ damn dollars, much like certain native Americans chiefs traded Montana for beads. It was fraudulent and deceptive, and not representative of the first nation peoples.

    I watched the Edwards dam in Augusta come down 20 years ago because "the environmental damage did not equal the electricity generated." Not only are those mega-dams not green energy, they are environmental nightmares and would be illegal in Maine and the United States.

    The whole project is designed to make buckets of money for foreign that will flow out of Maine and could have been used for local renewable developments which will be suppressed by the project.

    Both the environmental and the jobs "claims" we are being brainwashed with on television are the result of your rate dollars being used Hollywood style to get Mainers to change their minds. Other rate dollars are being used to "sue" us to prevent us from having our say at the polls.

    I am guessing you are one of the "few" who will somehow benefit for the project- at the expense of many others. Just a guess based on having talked to thousands against the project and a few selected, and mostly conflicted few, for the project. Otherwise, why would you support a bad for Maine project, propagated by the worst rated utility company in the history of the world, against the will of the Maine people?

    PS: I support clean energy, environmental stewardship and improved and increased infrastructure. This project does none of that, and in fact inhibits the best way forward.

    One last comment- if we don't hold the line on foreign for profit incursions now, our successors will not enjoy the Maine we know and love. There is a plan to exploit Maine, and this project gives them more than a toehold. Ask your self how the Iberdola/Avangrid/CMP shareholders will vote. Money, or mindful considerations for Maine's future?

  22. Terry, They can't take or disturb anything below 35ft in height, there is no vegetation to worry about save for the trees they are going to cut down to clear the path that is that vegetation is coming down, but the low brush and natural browse isn't going to be taken.