Franklin Countys First News

Politics & Other Mistakes: Power siblings

Al Diamon

The Conservation Law Foundation, a respected environmental group based in Boston, is firmly in favor of Central Maine’s Power’s plan to build a 145-mile transmission line through western Maine to bring Canadian hydropower to Massachusetts.

According to the CLF website, tapping Hydro-Quebec’s electricity “makes us reliant on big, carbon-emitting Canadian hydropower, undermining the market for New England’s own home-grown zero-carbon renewable energy.”

Wait, what?

Oh, the foundation wasn’t discussing the New England Clean Energy Connect project in Maine. It was opposing a similar proposal called the Northern Pass that was supposed to run through New Hampshire. The CLF said Northern Pass would have done all kinds of bad things, such as increasing power costs, “spoil[ing] some of New Hampshire’s most scenic and sensitive areas” and “putting local, clean renewables at risk.”

NECEC is totally different – in ways that aren’t readily apparent.

From the foundation’s website: “By bringing more clean energy to the region, the project will reduce our reliance on dangerous, expensive fracked gas and significantly cut climate-damaging emissions.”
That’s the same energy CLF just called “carbon-emitting.”

Foundation vice president Greg Cunningham tried to explain this seeming inconsistency in a February press release: “The disastrous effects of climate change are at our front door and we must take aggressive action to reduce our emissions to zero by 2050.”

Apparently, climate change isn’t happening in New Hampshire.

We can only speculate as to why CLF made this abrupt shift in its position. So, let’s do a little speculating.
Sean Mahoney is executive vice president of CLF’s Maine Advocacy Center. R. Scott Mahoney is senior vice president for Avangrid, Central Maine’ Power’s parent company. The Mahoneys are brothers.

Nothing to see here folks, emailed Carol Gregory, spokeswoman for CLF. Just move along. Brotherly love “has had no bearing on our advocacy in this case or any other over the past decades. [Scott Mahoney] was not involved in any of the NECEC proceedings before the [Public Utilities Commission] or the [Department of Environmental Protection] or any of the NECEC negotiations that CLF participated in.”

Seems perfectly reasonable that the foundation’s main man in Maine would be able to set aside his brother’s occupation. Although just in case he couldn’t, a May 2018 letter to the PUC, Phelps Turner, a CLF staff attorney, said the foundation had established a “conflict/ethical wall” to prevent Sean Mahoney from accessing “any Designated Confidential Information.” But Turner also noted that Sean Mahoney “is otherwise actively participating in the case.”

None of which explains CLF’s abrupt position change from fighting the New Hampshire project to supporting the all-too-similar Maine venture. According to Gregory, NECEC “answered our concern that the electricity it will transmit would lead to increases in emissions from dirty Canadian power plants – the power NECEC delivers will be surplus power from existing dams.”

If that’s so, why did CLF attorney Melissa Birchard tell the Boston Globe in early April that the foundation is still opposed to Northern Pass? How can Hydro-Quebec electricity sent to the Granite State be dirty, while juice from the same source delivered to the Pine Tree State is clean?

For the record, Neither Sean nor Scott Mahoney returned calls seeking comment on their involvement in NECEC.
The Conservation Law Foundation isn’t the only nonprofit organization with questionable ties to the Central Maine Power project. More on that next week.

Clarification: Because of unclear information provided by the CLF, an earlier version of this column indicated the wrong Mahoney brother was not taking part in the NECEC negotiations. Scott of Avangrid is uninvolved in the case.

While I was writing this column, the power went out. Coincidence? Speculation may be emailed to aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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36 Responses »

  1. The line in New Hampshire would have nudged a corner of the White Mountain Nation Forest out of the way and tipped a couple state parks. It is understandable why NH said no and the CLF took the position it did in regards to New Hampshire. As for the NECEC, it starts in the middle of nowhere in a heavily worked logging region that is not in anyway "protected" , it is just a chunk of land, there is nothing special about it, it has no historical significance, it isn't even Indian territory no threatened or protected species. As for the rates going up, that has yet to be seen and remains nothing but conjecture on the part of the nay sayers.

  2. You lost me in paragraph 2 with "carbon-emitting Canadian hydropower." Is that correctly quoted? What's carbon-emitting about hydropower?

  3. Wow Hrtlss - ignore the brother link and go straight to your usual working forest routine. Don't forget the 35,000 cords that will be clear cut and factor in the fuel required to cut, twitch, land and haul in your calculus. Oh, and also don't forget the herbicides that you say are organic but really aren't. You have a few other parts of your story a bit wrong, but who seems to bother with the real truth?

  4. HB: you are right about the land being cut over. But the point made is the Hydropower from the same source is dirty in NH but is clean in Maine. By the way , the corridor cross Maine public lands owned by all of us. The state negotiated a whopping 1400 dollars per year. LK : the reservoir behind the hydro emits methane from the decaying organic matter in the soil. One article by a gentlemen from MIT suggests this emission is equal to a coal fired power plant. Both good comments and questions.

  5. Nice job Al. Interesting ..... as the plot thickens.

  6. From Janet Mills brother Peter being on the Western Mountains and Rivers Board (a non-profit shell company funded by CMP to "convince" people NECEC is a good thing), to Avangrid exec.John Carroll circling the state with his polished half-truths, to a team of CMP executives and their propaganda at every hearing and meeting about the corridor, to the PUC (PUBLIC) ignoring a 99.5% anti-corridor avalanche poll, to the "dirty money and pollution" claims made by CMP funded advertisers on TV, flyers, the radio and in phone calls to this latest example of "power siblings" from the flippy flop CLF to Hrtlss (Brnlss?)Bstrd's constant drivel one might imagine they would be winning.
    Instead, smart people who care about our state are seeing right through this should-be-illegal attempt to rape Maine. NO CORRIDOR continues to gain momentum in what will become the greatest example of grassroots opposition overcoming corporate greed and cronyism this state has ever seem.
    To the tune of 90% in Franklin county and 65%statewide.

  7. You know any inkling of accepting the NECEC died for me the day CMP came out with their candy coated threat of using eminent domain if their transmission line was turned down for any reason, and they have to reroute. They’ve made good that threat before. I trust they’d do it again. And that’s the only thing l trust about them. CMP should take their project elsewhere.
    Hrtless, what’s tipping a few national forests compared to flooding towns? You see, it’s all in the perspective of the people that are going to be effected.

  8. Scott Mahoney is also on the board at Gulf of Maine Research Institute. They brushed off Mr. Steve Kasperzak's report on damage to fisheries and warming of the Gulf of Maine very quickly.

  9. The Conservation Law Foundation, a "once" respected environmental group …

    Hrtlss Bstrd, it really gets tiring and I keep wondering why you are SO for this project or if you just love being the contrarian. " … nothing special about it," You are apparently quite wrong on that account given the hundreds of testimonies given to numerous committees and boards stating just how special this land is to many, many people.

    To those who do NOT want this corridor, powerline or destruction to our North Woods, please let your reps and senators AND governor know how you feel. Mainers are overwhelmingly against this but we must continue letting our representatives know that we are watching what they are doing.

  10. Ozerki, Since you seem to like numbers. It takes 220 tons of steel to construct a single wind turbine, a single dump truck used to haul the ore holds 235 gallons of fuel, 115 gallons of lubricants, and burns 2 liters of fuel every 10 minutes. Maine uses 2600mw per day, a wind turbine needs 3 acres of land. Maine would need 4700 more wind turbines to produce the power we need plus a surplus. in the winter the turbins need to be de iced or they don't work or spin out of balance and destroy themselves. The de icing is done by helicopter using ethylene glycol, ethylene glycol is very toxic to animals and humans. The EPA and DEP approved herbicides are tested to be animal safe, according to their respective Material Safety Data Sheet any way are 100-150 times safer than the calcium and magnesium that the state spreads on the miles of roads every winter. The wood, is barely usable pulp wood that will be processed at local mills, which could really use the boost.

  11. There is absolutely no way CLF can differentiate hydropower sent over the Northern Pass from that sent over the NECEC. Further, the benefits package in the stipulation that CLF agreed to is a bait and switch, unverifiable, and speculative. This is a greenwash. The NECEC will increase Massachusetts emissions by 2%. That's not address the climate crisis by REDUCING emissions-it's not even carbon neutral.

    Canadian hydro via the Northern Pass or the NECEC is a dirty energy plain and simple.
    It should be treated like fossil fuels: it causes releases of methane, CO2 and nitrous oxide
    & destroys carbon sequestering forests

    • Canadian megadams contribute to climate change by:

    1. Flooding land to create reservoirs: decomposing organic material releases CO2 and methane; forests and wetlands under shallow water have been storing carbon for millennia; trees permanently gone cannot grow back to remove CO2 any time soon. Methane emissions from dams and reservoirs are about 25% higher than estimated; methane is about 30x as potent a GHG as CO2; methane accounts for up to 79% of CO2e emissions from reservoirs. A 2012 report states that from reservoir flooding alone, one of Hydro-Quebec’s dams “may emit CO2 at a rate close to 32 to 63% that of the least emitting natural gas plant.”

    2.Consuming massive amounts of steel and concrete for construction and operation.

    3. Releasing methane and CO2 as reservoirs are raised and lowered.

    4. Trapping silica that would have otherwise flowed to the sea and helped sequester carbon in the oceans;

    5. Destroying forests for transmission corridors.

    • Hydro emissions are ignored in IPCC and state and federal GHG inventories.

    • There is no carbon accounting for the currently proposed Canadian hydro import projects.

    • The electricity from Canada via the Iberdrola/Central Maine Power/NECEC will increase Massachusetts emissions by 2 million metric tons of CO2e, an increase of about 2%.

  12. Hrtless,
    Do you know if the herbicides used by CMP to maintain the Corridor will harm honeybees? Because they don’t know. How about the half life of those herbicides? Yup, once again, when those CMP officials were asked those questions, they just didn’t know....

  13. Re Tom's comments and others:
    Also, CMP and Nestles are on Gulf of Maine Research Institute board of directors or honorary board of
    directors. Bigelow Labs recently had their new campus wired by E. S. Boulos, who is one of New Englands biggest builders of transmission stations It was a Bigelow labs scientist and GMRI scientist who said Steve Kasprzaks statements were pseudoscience. Kasprzak was only quoting Dr. Hans Neu and other respected scientists like Michael Rozengurt. These Maine Marine research institutions will not mention impacts of dams and freshwater flow regulation either in Canada or Maine.
    All the environmental institutions except a few fear CLF and their control of funding. Are Sean Mahoney and Scott Mahoney brothers?

  14. Terry, did you know these are the same herbicides that CMP has been using on the hundreds of miles of existing pole lines for years, but that some how only at this very moment in time, does their use come into question. The herbicide defense for not having the line is a dead issue, if they were not an issue then, they are not an issue now.

  15. A couple of points of clarification
    1) the proposed line is planned to be in CMP’s existing corridor or on private land CMP has made arrangements with
    2) there is no eminent domain or public land involved

  16. Terry is a social media manipulator spinner worthy of a Russian troll farm.... Have you no shame in the utter BS you say here? You make boo hoo statements about Franklin County being considered "backwards and ignorant" yet you spin utterly false, inflammatory garbage to people as if you know them to be susceptible to it aka "backwards and ignorant".

    I usually can't stand anything HrtlsBstrd says---but his statements on this issue are sound, fact based, rational.

    The line in Maine only requires new construction of a short section up on the border that has been LOGGED. The rest is the ALREADY EXISTING LINE.

    The CMP has stated specifically they will not use harmful pesticides. If that is an area of concern for people---then question them rigorously on it and hold their feet to the fire.

    The NH line needed a lot more construction and went the the parks etc. mentioned by HB. It posed a totally different degree and impact of construction.

    CLF is just a organization that gave it's endorsement. It has no real weight in the matter other than an endorsement of "words". If Donald Trump can have fireside chats with Putin and arrange for the Russians to dickie up an American election..............in a red county like Franklin where people think that's just hunky dory for them......I fail to see why they now want to scream crybaby boo hoo about a org like CSF endorsing in words only.

    I think we all know what this is all about. Franklin County Redski's are ticked off ranked choice elected Mills so now they are going to obstruct, passive aggress, and "stubborn up" over anything they possible can..............yawn....whatever.

    Meanwhile....residents are moving out of the area, visitors and companies in Franklin county are drying up. Portland prospers because gosh darn it, people like living and visiting there. Honestly...I don't even go grocery shopping in Franklin County anymore...the atmosphere is just so "drug" chic and/or you get hustled for proof that you're a "real card carrying mainer" at the door. Whatever---- couple trips to Portland every week, I see a film, I eat out, I shop at Trader Joe's...and now with Amazon's lowered pricing at "Whole Pay Check" I actually get good pricing on stuff I can't buy in Franklin County.

    I'm voting with my feet.

  17. @ heckler you sound a lot like a troll you accuse terry of being. You need to fact check yourself. No collusion no rank choice vote for mills !!!!!! This is about a powerline not politics. Get an education.
    I will try this again maybeI will get an answer from hrtlss this time. Are you 1 a stockholder 2 a current employee or 3 a retired employee of cmp thatgets a raise on the backs of rate payers ?

  18. 4700 wind turbines? Try 130, offshore and out of sight. Vestas is currently deploying a 9.5 MW turbine in the Baltic Sea, there's no reason Maine can't do the same with our massive offshore wind potential - some of the best in the country. Strong and nearly constant. 130 V174-9.5MW turbines could provide over 1200 MW of power, and we could run those lines from far offshore directly to Boston.

  19. Troy, we can't run the wires to Boston through to ocean, the internet from overseas run through there, federal law says nothing near, around or over the internet lines.

  20. Family (brothers from CLF and Advangrid ) and lots of profit makes the NECEC smell like my pig pen.

  21. Delbert,

    CMP has stated, and publicly, that eminent domain could be used as a last resort measure, if the line has to be rerouted for any reason. It may not be in the works now, but I for one, believe that history could repeat itself, if this utility company decides to make it so....

  22. Canibal Heckler,

    1) We're trying to keep this as non-political as possible. That's been a tad hard considering the fact that Governor Mills (political figure) endorsed the project and other political figures such as Senator Brownie Carson (LD-640) and Senator Miramant (LD-271) have jumped on board with proposed legislation.

    By the way, I must not be the only one spreading so called false and inflammatory garbage considering LD-271 is a bill that withholds the right of eminent domain from a transmission and distribution utility, for lands or easements to be acquired for an elective transmission upgrade that is not required for reliability of service to customers in Maine or the ISO-NE region. You see Canibal, if a company that has created a trust issue starts with threats that concern eminent domain, people are going to start taking them seriously. Oh, and last I knew, all three of the said political figures above are democrats so you can take your Redki's theory and well, never mind.

    2) Yawn, yes I know, same BS, different day, but regarding your points on the NECEC.

    a) the new section of line will be 53 miles long, which in a lot of folks eyes is a lot longer than your proposed perception of short. That LOGGED forest is a working forest, which cuts carbon emissions, harbors wildlife, and GROWS back in a cycled sense. And as for the scenic impact of a working forest, its a heck of a lot prettier than 95ft mono-poles strung like ducks in a scrub row.

    b)That EXISTING line will be widened by 75ft in some areas. Let's not leave that out.

    3) As for your point concerning CMP and pesticide usage.

    a) CMP officials have been questioned rigorously about their usage of pesticides at every meeting I have attended. And at each meeting their responses have been rehearsed or they "just didn't know." Personally, I think they should take the initiative and research the areas of herbicide usage questions that people impacted by this line are asking them. That way we wouldn't have hold anyone's feet to the fire.This Corridor is causing enough grief as it is.

    4) I've already discussed what I feel about New Hampshire's refusal. A lot of folks up this way don't like the way the NECEC will impact their livelihoods,the environment, and scenic views. And lets not forget the devaluing of some people's property. Good for New Hampshire and their refusal. It just proves that other folks don't like utility companies impacting their resources either.

    5) CFL is entitled to their endorsement. But in the same token, others don't have to agree with that endorsement and that doesn't make them obstructive, stubborn, passive aggressive folks who are out to sink the Democratic Party. May I also add that the same above qualities or personality traits do not often apply to those that oppose the NECEC.

    Meanwhile....I enjoy Portland also but I shop locally for the most part. I want to support local business, here. I appreciate the hard work they do for us. Drug chic? Real card carrying Mainer? You've lost me.

    You're also entitled to vote with your feet, and if you do change your mind about the NECEC, I have a couple of signs I'd love for you to plant along the way.

    Thanks for your input Canibal Heckler, it's much appreciated. Have a great day.

  23. Crickets hmmmmm ......

  24. To all those in favor of the CMP corridor... why do you live here in western Maine since you seem to consider expanded industrialization as progress? Please, move to southern Maine. They have all kinds of industry and lots of wires down that way going every which way in every nook and cranny...to serve all those highly populated areas. Southern Maine used to have a lot of remote forests once too. You don't seem to understand that if we continue to invade our last few woods that are still at least somewhat pristine that one day there won't be any left. Sprawl happens. On that same note, I have news that should delight you folks. The LUPC passed their adjacency principle which increases the one mile limit on development around rural hubs to 7 miles. That opens up close to a million acres in Maine's unorganized territories to development that was not allowed before. So there goes even more of our remote areas. Cheers!

  25. Del Reed and others,
    While I fully understand the situation with most of cmp land, doesn't it strike you that this whole corridor proposal hasn't really had the input from a real, bona fide independent party? The opposition numbers notwithstanding, why can't we simply have a fair process here? If we did then no one would really have a reason to whine as much. Here we have the brothers Mahoney linking CLF and Avangrid. We have WM&RC linking Janet to Peter and the potential for drastic tax reassessment if cmp 'sold' their land to that non-profit. We have no environmental impact assessment whatsoever and have a macroeconomic assessment that the authors admitted had flaws. HVDC lines are normally buried - this is pretty standard industry practice. The herbicides to be used - tell me they won't leak onto someone else's property? Like how about most of the streams and wetlands in the corridor area. And I really don't see the logic in authorizing 3500 acres of land to be clear cut (forever), particularly in the name of climate change. This whole thing really does smell because everyone with even a general idea of the NECEC understands that this is being totally run down the throats of the Maine people with no recourse, no fact-based impact assessment, false statements and media complicity - imagine this story about dark money funding the No-Corridor group. Yep, the dark money comes mostly in amounts of $5-20. This corridor helps no one in Maine but cmp and a few selected people and goes against what this State stands for and that is the huge rub.

  26. Lindy, Yeah, I live there. Maine's logging industry, dying, western Maine's manufacturing industry, long dead, at one point we produced everything from shoes to toothpicks to plastic forks, paper. Now what do we produce, elderly people and drug addicts.

  27. HB......And yet, despite all the industry that has been lost in this area....we are still here.
    The problem is we don't seem to know how to sustain ourselves without continuing to expand into and take over natural areas. This is what we have been doing for centuries and look at what we have done to the world. Yet, we cannot stop because we are too dumb (or too greedy) to know how to subsist any other way. This CMP line and the LUPC adjacency rule change are more nibbles which is how "progress" takes over these areas. Hopefully one day before it is too late and before humans take over everywhere, the lightbulb will come on and we will realize that when we destroy nature we are destroying the planet's life support system...which is essential for our survival.

    Another note....at least all the elderly people are bringing outside money into the area via their pension checks.

  28. yes as HB says we've lost a lot of "things" over the years in this area.
    Same as most of the rest of the country..
    But we still have a pleasant place to exist.
    More expensive to live here,,,yes.
    I choose to stay here because of the slow backwards pace.
    If you don't like it here,, please make your self happy.
    My Home is here.

  29. There could be 100 independent studies backing the facts and benefits of this project and the same people would be complaining. It's become an emotional" let's stick it to the evil corporation's" campaign. this will bring hydro power to the northeast grid. Offsetting the loss of a coal fired plant in Conn and a nuclear plant in Massachusetts. The whole grid benefits. The whole planet benefits. All the town's that already have the power lines will benefit even more.

  30. Hrtlss - could you do me one favor? Please cite explicitly where I stated anything in ANY of my comments, past and present, about wind towers or wind power? It really sinks your credibility when you deflect one comment to chase another red herring. If you can't comment directly to what I state or ask then please don't try to take a discussion in a completely new direction that is tangent at best to the actual subject. Thanks

  31. Eddie,
    Tell me why Massachusetts isn't installing Wind Farms or building Hydro Dams in their neighborhood then.....???? After all they are creating the demand for more power. Right.
    (It's because of the wealthy influence that lives in the Berkshires and on the Cape,, they don't want it there).

    And somehow Maine is being ridiculed as NIMBY...
    And they wonder why we don't care for their "attitude".

    Please tell that part of the story if you want to be taken seriously...
    Or not...

  32. I've pointed out on many threads here. The ISO New England grid includes all of new England. When the amount of power going into the grid changes, it affects everyone on that grid. We are all connected. It's not just about Massachusetts. As for wind? Seriously? It's overpriced and unreliable. Incapable of producing a steady flow of power. Without massive subsidies nobody could afford the intermittent power it produces. And are you really suggesting Massachusetts dam a river? Watch out the "let's go back to the Stone age to fight a futile battle against a natural cycle of the Earth" crowd will tar and feather you. Lol

  33. Eddie,

    Why isn't Mass considering anything done "in their yard"?
    According to your reasoning, they could be the grids heroes...

    Go ahead and dodge it again.
    It's funny.

    Why not in their Back Yard?
    Waiting.......

  34. Ozerki that’s what Hrtlss deos best deflect. He has a hard time answering questions directly because he is so busy working. I still assume it’s for CMP as he hasn’t answered my question. Maybe he is working hard making signs for the next time they strike and force energy rates up to give him and friends a nice raise on the backof rate payers.

  35. https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiY9eqK_vLhAhUhVt8KHTuqAYwQzPwBegQIARAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fthehill.com%2Fbusiness-a-lobbying%2F439145-texas-fossil-fuel-industry-bests-maine-residents-for-donations-to-susan&psig=AOvVaw1sWTC95qy9DCr7WMF6UHis&ust=1556547674191565

    Texas Fossil Fuels interests are providing more financial support for Sen. Collins than Maine residents are. According to the Portland Press Herald, they are also behind efforts to convince Mainers to block new power transmission lines aimed at delivering renewable energy from Quebec Hydro to New England's free energy markets. This in spite of the fact that natural gas is likely to replace most of the market to be vacated with the closure of the Massachusetts Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in June.

    Fossil Fuels interests have increased attacks on renewable energy in recent years. The reason is simple, renewable energy is cheaper than natural gas, the most cost effective fossil fuel, and is carbon neutral, unlike fossil fuels. Knowing they can not undercut their competitors pricing, fossil fuels interests have chosen to block renewable energy wherever they can. Those efforts are underway across the country, and globe.

    Our world has changed folks. Those who choose not to change with it will be relegated to history. Politics are no longer local. Foreign interests have no respect for land boundaries, and the have no care for the truth. They will deceive anyone they can if they see benefit. By enlisting the support of Mainers, Texas fossil fuels interests seek to poison our political climate, so they can continue to poison our environment.

  36. Wow Jay !!! When do you suppose us no folks will see our money in the mailbox from these texas oil companies? Perhaps you shouldn’t believe everything especially from the Portland Press Herald. Do some research because I haven’t heard anything from Sen. Collins on this issue nor Sen. King (the guy that scammed us with wind)

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