Franklin Countys First News

Politics & Other Mistakes: The road to Niceville

Al Diamon

If you carefully examine Central Maine Power’s plan to build a transmission line to deliver Canadian hydropower to Massachusetts, you’ll discover the company is promising that in return for being allowed to ravage the western part of this state, the project will turn everybody in the Bay State into a nicer person.

Think of it. No more Massholes cutting you off on the pike. No more rude Bostonians condescending to the local rubes. No more Harvard grads explaining how we’re doing everything wrong. Maybe we’d even see New England Patriots fans hugging New York Jets supporters.

I’ve got doubts about that last one.

CMP claims that the 145-mile corridor it wants to carve through the Maine woods will deliver clean electricity from Hydro Quebec to our energy-hungry neighbor to the south. The new juice will replace fossil fuel, thereby mitigating climate change. As anyone who listens to National Public Radio knows, people who reduce their carbon footprint are, by definition, nicer.

That’s scientific fact. Undeniable.

How could we say no? Easy. It’s entirely possible for the Commonwealth to get all the allegedly clean Canadian power it wants without messing up one square foot of Maine. Massachusetts’ population – naturally inclined to arrogance, privilege and homicidal road rage – would be able to upgrade its personality without inflicting any harm on us.

Of course, there’s a catch. To achieve this admirable goal, the Commonwealth would have to subject itself to exactly the same sort of forest devastation it’s trying to foist off on Maine.

Here’s how the deal would work. New York City is currently negotiating with Hydro Quebec to build something called the Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line, which would bring 1,000 megawatts of Canadian power to the Big Apple. This project would run right by Massachusetts’ western border. If the capacity of this line were increased – and there’s no reason it couldn’t be, since Hydro Quebec has plenty of surplus electricity – it could also handle the power needs of the Bay State. All that would be required are lots of additional towers and cables stretching from the Berkshires to Boston. And a few less trees and woodland creatures.

In other words, the unsightly environmental damage would be inflicted upon the folks who’d be benefiting from the supposedly green power. Unfortunately, this tradeoff might mitigate the uplifting effects of cleaner energy, meaning Massachusetts residents wouldn’t become nicer people, after all. It’s also possible they might become even more unpleasant, in much the way the population of western Maine has been enraged by the push to despoil their neighborhood to benefit somebody else.

Opponents of CMP’s plan have already gathered 30,000 signatures on petitions to force a referendum aimed at stopping the project. Chances are that by January, they’ll have something close to 80,000 names, far more than the 63,000 needed to put the issue on the ballot. That’s forced the power line’s most prominent supporter, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, into an uncomfortable position, one that bears an uncanny resemblance to a lame duck.

Mills knows the project is wildly unpopular, particularly on her home turf in Franklin and Somerset counties (where most of the corridor is supposed to run). It’s also opposed by many of the state’s most politically potent environmental groups. If she campaigned actively for the CMP plan, she’d be eroding her base of support to the point where she might become vulnerable in a 2022 Democratic primary. So, according to a statement her office gave Maine Public last week, she’s planning to take the wimp’s way out by sitting on the sidelines of next year’s referendum battle, pretending she has nothing to do with any of this, while taking occasional shots at CMP on the unrelated issue of its sloppy billing practices.

Too bad. Mills could have endorsed the New York power corridor as a reasonable alternative for providing clean energy to Massachusetts without sacrificing any Maine acreage. That would have been bold.

And it might even have made her seem like a nicer person.

Drop me a (power) line by emailing aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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16 Responses »

  1. Somewhere in the background I hear James Taylor singing Sweet Baby James which contains the geographical fact that the turnpike runs from (West) Stockbridge to Boston.

    There are significantly long stretches of the aforementioned turnpike that have transmission lines on towers already in position nearby. There are also stretches with plenty of land in between the eastbound and westbound lanes where additional lines could be placed above or below ground. This infrastructure could be useful in bringing juice to such places as Blandford, which sounds to us like another name for Niceville.

    While we're at it, let's have some streetlights on the Appalachian Trail bridge.

    Maybe Gov Mills could call up Gov. Baker and tell him (nicely) to solve his own problems and have the nice people of the Commonwealth pay for them.

    And now JT has been replaced on the jukebox by old friend Joni Mitchell singing "Electricity". There's a couplet in that song about lines overloading and sparks flying. Or maybe it was Starks frying.

    Sign the petition and let's put this choice to a vote.

  2. Al, lets not forget that when Maine sought to have a bigger gas line through Massachusetts to deliver lower cost gas energy to the State of Maine, the residents there shut it down cold. They couldn’t be bothered to have their Forest disturbed. Now I get why the Vermont project is a no go. I think ISO New England and Mass need to rip apart Mass to accommodate the needs of Mass.

  3. Al,,,

    I usual disagree with you.
    But, THANK YOU for this article.

    We're being viewed by Mass and CMP as pushovers that don't matter .
    Janet Mills should be ashamed.

  4. CMP's attitude all along has been those dumb hicks in Maine won't be able to stop us.
    This should not even be Maine's problem, we are far from a strait line from dirty HQ to power hungry Mass, but we are not powerful like those mansion owners in the Berkshires. Or so they thought- attack the heart of Maine and be prepared for a fight. BTW, its fully permitted and underground in Vermont but that cut into profits.
    CMP/Iberdola/Avangrid/NECEC/Clean Corridor Connect (who are these people anyway- that call me dark money??) and their condescending attitude is part of the reason they lost the trust of Mainers everywhere. The other part, of course is that this is a really bad deal for Maine on all fronts.

    CMP/NECEC/Mainers for Clean Energy/Clean Energy Connect/Clean Energy Corridor AKA the utility ranked last in the nation and run by foreign boards of directors, keeps running from their own names but putting out these wonderfully polished TV ads while not addressing billing and power outage issues adequately.

    Sign the petition, bring it to a vote, let Mainers have a say. Our successors will thank us if we can remain Vacationland, rather than a future cold New Jersey. They ain't making any more of it, Maine is fortunate to still have some of it- lets not give it away for foreign profits based on false premises.

  5. Don't blame me! I voted for Moody.

  6. Al, please tell the people your relationship Janet Mills.

  7. Thanks for the article. I can't figure out how Mills thought there was any benefit to Maine in promoting this scheme. She has prostrated herself before the United Nations and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for what? Her own aggrandizement? One of her "promises" will cost all of us more in tax dollars for a minute (if any) change in the carbon footprint, and the other will cost us one of the very things that makes Maine unique; its wilderness.

  8. I don't think Janet Mills needs to worry about the 2022 Democratic Primary. She has already showed her true colors and she is not standing beside what Maine people value!!

  9. Yes, if you are a Maine Voter: please sign the petition - you can find a signature gatherer near you by visiting the "Say No to NECEC" page on Facebook.

  10. Governor Mills created her legacy when she decided to back the CMP Corridor and take the paltry mitigation monies that comes with the beast, while sacrificing a part of Maine, a lot of Maine people’s livelihoods, and recreational enjoyment. No wonder she’s taking a “neutral” stance on the Citizens Referendum. She has no choice now. The Governor knows the state is in an uproar....

    There will be a town meeting in Rome tonight at their town office. Representatives from CMP/AVANGRID/lberdola will be attending along with representatives from the NRCM. There will also be a petition table set up for the Citizens Referendum vote. If you haven’t signed yet feel free to stop on in. We can take signatures from any town in the state of Maine.

    Nope this hasn’t been the road to Niceville. But hey, it will be resolved with a statewide vote in 2020. Its just a shame that the division happened at all.

  11. Citizens of Rome voted 25-2 against the CMP Corridor last night, despite the fact a well paid propaganda specialist from CMP/Avangrid/Iberdola/NECEC/ was on hand to spin half truths. MOST Mainers are not taking the CMP bait, despite the polished rhetoric and Hollywood-style commercials. I do wonder where the $500K for those commercials is coming from, while they call me and my grassroots friends "dark money" and fail miserably to reconcile their billing issues.

  12. 25 to 2 vote.
    What's so great is the fact that this result surprises NO ONE.

    THIS IS WHY, they are spending millions of dollars spreading lies and half truths.
    They know they are in trouble.
    And they really are.

    What they are NOW learning is that in Maine, we aren't going to succumb to their slick advertising and outright lies.
    We're going to see and hear an onslaught of more lies now,,, more than before.
    Why?
    Because they would rather fund a bunch of lies than fix their existing problems they have created with their Maine customers.
    THAT,,, tells you all you need to know about WHO THEY REALLY ARE.

    Paid liars.
    We ain't buying it.
    No Corridor in Maine.

  13. Did anyone actually read the facts that All brought forth in this article?

    The ones about how Mass said piss off when we wanted natural gas piped thru Mass so we could benefit.
    ..
    The ones about how the folks in Western Mass have said "No Corridor" they their beautiful mountains (I don't blame them).

    So,,, let's shove this down the throats of those backwards Mainers. They are so slow, they won't even know it until it's TOO LATE.

    KNOW WHAT FOLKS,, IT ALMOST WORKED.

    They swindled the Gov to make a horrible deal,,
    Was fast tracking it thru our agencies as fast as possible,
    UNTIL,,,
    A few Good Mainers asked questions...

    Thank You So Very Much Mainers,

    We know that what we have cannot be replaced once it is lost.
    Just all the folks in Western Mass,,, they feel the same way.

    The Power Sucking Wasteful Energy Users can either change their ways or swindle the people in their own state ....

    No Corridor.

  14. Didn't the rich people on Cape Cod just have a project to put windpower off Cape Cod shut down because they didn't want to see the turbines.

  15. Al, Federal law says foreign countries can't import more than 1200mw per line, this is intended to prevent them from taking over any given grid, which HydroQuebec could do without much trouble, but what would NextEra who ownes several hydrodams in Maine and nuclear power plants in New York and New England say about that? I often wonder, do people actually know who owns our power generating facilities? Because until last year, some(1100mw) power used in western Maine was actually Emera power generated in Rumford. Maybe the folks in Rumford didn't want power lines crisscrossing their town, we should probably ask them, sucks for Dixfield, Jay, Weld and parts of Wilton, if the folks in Rumford want the lines removed.

  16. What Really Sucks are Dishonest Corporations and The Idiots Who Defend Them.

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