Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: NECEC and the Army Corps of Engineers

Thursday, Dec. 5, in Lewiston, an Army Corps of Engineers hearing regarding CMP's NECEC for-profit project will held. Public comment and written submissions are encouraged. While preparing to attend this hearing I asked myself “how did this CMP project proposal actually get to where it is now?” The answer lies somewhere in the depths of a leather appointed, ‘smoky’ backroom (just wanted add a bit of intrigue with this expression from 1950’s politics - probably even these backrooms are now smoke free environments).

Recently it was announced that CMP has created a PAC called Clean Energy Matters to help further muddy the waters so that people can continue to hear the CMP mantra “good for Maine” blah blah “clean energy” blah blah “huge benefits for the good citizens of Maine” blah blah blah. The money CMP dedicated for ratepayers amounts to about $5 per year; subsidies for heat pumps … CMP benefits from the electricity required to use heat pumps and the same for electric car charging stations; rural high speed internet …. mine works fine now and who will pay for the monthly charges, CMP? The only allocation that makes any sense is the subsidy for low income people but even that is speculative due to CMP’s continuing practice of cheating customers.

Clean Energy Matters - a PAC provided with $500,000 to inform viewers (read snow job) about the benefits of the NECEC and to probably talk about the dark money provided by the evil opponents - most of which pool their dark money in bars and other venues across Maine in outrageous amounts sometimes exceeding $5-10. Why not use the $500K to subsidize low income people rather than on fabricating information about the NECEC? I learned a valuable lesson from this PAC: never risk drinking my Moxie while reading some of the information provided by John Reed, director of this PAC. I nearly blew out both nostrils laughing at John’s contention that the NECEC has "environmental benefits."

As an environmental dynamics practitioner, I can honestly state that I have absolutely no idea why a project this invasive and large scale has come this far with no Environmental Impact Statement. Similar project proposals in New Hampshire and Vermont have both had an EIS – why is Maine different? Starting to get the drift now? When there is a former Maine governor on the Avangrid Board of Directors ($200k/yr. salary); current governor’s brother on the BoD for a key pro CMP ‘NGO’; and the Mahoney brothers from Avangrid and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF opposed the same type of project in New Hampshire but the brothers Mahoney are all for the Maine version). This is just the tip of the iceberg. Doesn’t something really smell? The opponents of this NECEC project are working against a stacked deck and, yet, are making CMP and its dark money, corporate backers very nervous and that makes me smile for a brief moment in time.

It is my hope that the ACOE meeting provides the opportunity to ask, point blank, whether they are actually going to do their jobs and require an EIS or whether we will be disappointed like we were with the MPUC and with Governor Mills’ veto. The only light still burning brightly is the initiative to put the NECEC on the ballot for Mainers to decide whether CMP should be allowed to implement the NECEC. The Maine government and CMP have already shown that they can’t be trusted so it follows that any decision on the NECEC ought to defer to THE PEOPLE OF MAINE.

Richard Aishton

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10 Responses »

  1. Thank you Richard....You have said what so many are afraid to say...Our previous Governor made big bucks with the blight of windmills on our hills and now the same (pass me the envelope) politicians are going for the Big Screw to Mainers who say "I don't want to get involved in politics".
    Pacific Gas and Electric has helped to ruin a once great state in the west. Wake up Mainers or your state will soon be called the 'East Coast of California'..Or is it the West Coast of Spain.

  2. I have lived in Maine my whole life, in Franklin county, here is what I don't remember, I don't remember being asked if I was in favor of an Amtrak train to run from Kittery to Brunswick, I don't remember being asked if I was in favor of the Mars Hill wind project, or if Emera could run a new 150 mile overland line from Hammond to Pittsfield called the MREI(Maine Renewable Energy Interconnect) where it will meet the existing line, the NECEC is going to be part of this system as well. Here is why I and my fellow Mainers were not asked if we approve of the MREI, because it didn't concern us, even though the permitting process was started the same time as the NECEC. Show of hands, how many people actually know about the MREI, judging by the shock and awe that the NECEC has been generating, my guess would be, not that many people know about the MREI. People, how is it that you claim to live in Maine and be concerned with Maine's environment, but you know about the NECEC, but you are clueless about the other 3 transmission line, substations, and energy generation projects? Did I say 3, NextEra, Longroad, and Invenergy, all have projects that are in the permitting process, that's 5 total projects, with a combined 290 miles of new transmission corridors, OH MY GOD!!! Where is the public outcry, the protests, the petitions, the town hall votes, the Antis are silent... on those other projects.

  3. @Lion/Eagle. I dont often agree with you, but I do this time.

  4. If individuals are interested in submitting a public comment by email or letter to the Army Corps of Engineers about the CMP corridor application, here is the information:
    The Army Corps of Engineers is accepting ongoing public comments during their review period. Submit your comment!
    Request an EIS - Environmental Impact Statement
    Request a public hearing
    Express your concerns for NECEC's negative impacts on Maine's wetlands and waterways.
    Include the following File Number: NAE-2017-01342
    In Reply Refer To: Jay L. Clement
    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
    New England District
    Maine Project Office
    442 Civic Center Dr., Suite 350
    Augusta, ME 04330
    To read the permit application, please go to this link:
    Here's the EPA letter that expresses deep concern about this project:

  5. Richard, unfortunately conflict of interest abounds with this project. However, instead of business as usual they have met a resistance deep rooted in the souls of Mainers. Send the letter to the ACOE, sign the petition, vote next fall to keep what we have...for us and our successors.

  6. Well said Mr. Aishton.
    To Heartless B....It is because of all of those other projects that you mentioned as well and the numerous ones that you didn't that people are so up in arms about the CMP corridor. We all see what corporate America has done to the environment and the landscape. It is time to say "Enough!". Are we to keep allowing big business interests to take over everything until there is nothing left.....because they will if we don't stop them . That is what has been happening up til now...all in the name of progress, promised jobs, money...the same old sell rhetoric. You say you have lived in western Maine all of your life. Me too. You must like it here, you didn't move away. Why do you want to change it? Why do you want it to become like southern Maine or like the rest of the country that gave up their countryside for the sake of business and 'progress'. We need to hold on to what we have here. Pristine forested areas are becoming a rarity. Don't be so anxious to give it away.

  7. Lindy, The NECEC will not run through a pristine forest full of acres of old growth trees in the middle of a state park that is full of near extinct animals and plants. It's not in the Northwoods, that region is above Greenville by half an hour by way of the crow flies. And the rafting place over by Kennebec Gorge, CMP I found out has agreed to put that section roughly a mile, under ground, so nobody will see any poles or lines near that site, when I inquired as to the possibility of a 100% underground line, it would be harder on the environment to construct, require more equipment, and the line would cost about $800 million more making it cost prohibitive. But with anything, there is a give and take with the NECEC, the state gives permission for the line, and Franklin county gets some more property taxes, maybe you haven't noticed, but Franklin county isn't exactly rife with businesses that contribute more than a million dollars in property taxes every year, plus another trade off is that once the line is in, it links the green energy that Maine does produce to the grid in a larger capacity, that makes the turbines more efficient as they can store more and move more, the more energy Maine produces, the less we have to buy from elsewhere, that means a rate drop. See, you have to thoroughly vet the project, CMP has been more truthful than the Antis have been. They won't tell you the environmental concessions that CMP has already agreed to make, the land that they have swapped with various conservation groups to protect scenic areas and provide money for conservation projects. There are several groups who won't see a dime, like the Audubon Society for example won't be getting any money from the NECEC or CMP, the Audubon Society is also against the NECEC, they would happily support the project I'd wager, were they going to get money from the project, Just like most naysayers, they will get a rate cut when the line is done in 2022, but they won't get one immediately.

  8. Hrtlss,
    It would appear that NECEC may be the straw that broke the camel's back as far as public awareness and bringing these companies out of the dark. You are correct, There are other projects in the works. Take the time and Google 83D bids. Click on each link. Take the time to read and see if you can determine where all of these responses to Mass RFP came from and where they are proposed to be sighted. Some are redacted to keep it quiet. If I recall there were @ 14 proposed wind farms in Maine for this one RFP. (there will be future RFP's also.) There is even one from CMP which is a partnership with a wind company. This one is called MCPC. There is also a transmission proposal from CMP called MCPC Transmission. Take the time to read pages 15 and 16. If you do, it should be abundantly clear that CMP has big visions of lines everywhere tying to windmills and anything else they can tie to. So to your point....I am aware of the projects you mention and this is one of the key reasons for my opposition to NECEC. CMP's current proposal is THE FIRST NAIL IN THE COFFIN for Maine. I share this with everybody I can. It has also been shared in testimony at many hearings at State agencies. Not all are aware, but many of us are. Thanks for sharing and please continue to share info on these subsequent projects with all that you can.

  9. To Heartless B.....
    -The corridor will run through 57 miles of presently undeveloped and pristine land (compared to a lot of areas in Maine that have allowed development.) More and more people nowadays consider undeveloped areas more valuable than developed ones. I thought you should be one of those people since you are living in and enjoying western Maine but you complained that 'Franklin County isn't exactly rife with businesses…." You prefer development over beautiful untouched landscapes?

    -The money that CMP has offered to Mainers is peanuts compared to the amount they will make in profits. The State should have insisted on a lot more for Mainers.

    - The project is being promoted as "green" which weighs heavily on the public's (and Janet Mill's) acceptance of the project. That 'green' determination was made by a CMP funded group. The bill that would have required a "green' assessment by an independent group (which CMP greatly opposed) never made it through the legislature. Makes you wonder why.

    - There is no provision in the present permitting process that takes opposing public opinion into consideration. How many towns that will have the line pass directly through them have voted against it? Yet that carries no weight in the State's permitting process.

    -In regards to your mention of CMP going underground for the sake of rafters...I wonder. When CMP initially offered to bury the line to pass under the river, the cost of doing that came out of the money they had promised to WM&RC. So, going under the river didn't cost CMP any additional money. What is the real deal with the 1 mile underground offer?

  10. HB - I do agree with your first statement above. Having worked against the Dickey-Lincoln dam and Big A I can say that the opposition is usually closely located and radiates out in diminishing circles. But your point is valid for sure.

    As for cmp being more truthful than the antis - that statement is not anywhere near correct. I even overheard last night cmp pr people contradicting your comment. The interesting parts of this are (1) the obvious corruption, which generally is better hidden/disguised; (2) the fact that no alternatives or EIS has been implemented; (3) Maine doesn't suffer any costs?? (well except for some serious environmental problems); (4) the pure arrogance of cmp, a company who cheats ratepayers and which finished AT THE BOTTOM of a recent nationwide survey, even being rated lower than PG&E who are credited with burning down California. I am sure that there is intrigue coming from the likes of NextEra, which actually had a very good case against the MPUC for violating their own laws. But the grassroots orgs such as Say No to NECEC can't afford to lie and fabricate information - that type of movement cannot survive being caught lying or being 'creative' with the truth. CMP can and does. An MIT prof presented information about peer-reviewed publications about large dams, particularly HQ and their findings were not very supportive of HQ and cmp's argument about 'clean energy'. In fact, one of the conclusions was that HQ was one of the worst companies and many of their dams with reservoirs were rated as higher polluters than coal-fired gen plants. An EIS is really needed, no doubt.