Franklin Countys First News

Politics & Other Mistakes: Welcome to the Maine house of ill repute

Al Diamon

We’re all prostitutes. The question is whether we’re expensive ones or cheap ones.

As evidence of our intentions to sell ourselves for the pleasure of others, consider the sex act known as NECEC (my editors would never allow me to use the actual terms those letters stand for, so I’ll pretend they’re short for “New England Clean Energy Connect”). Those of you horrified by graphic descriptions of bizarre erotic practices may want to skip the rest of this paragraph. NECEC involves inserting sizable metal structures in virgin portions of Maine’s anatomy, as well as penetrating our pristine nooks and crannies for the purpose of giving a cheap electrical charge not to ourselves, but to the citizens of Massachusetts. NECEC ranks right up there with tentacle porn (yes, it’s a real thing, look it up) as the least erotic experience available to those whose libidos overwhelm their intellects.

Even so, there’s a customer for it.

The john in this case is an entity I’ll call “Central Maine Power” to avoid embarrassing its family and friends (although, as far as I can tell, it has few of either). “CMP” is intent on committing NECAC with Maine, and it’s willing to spend over $1 billion to do so.

There’s nothing like a rich john. Although, this particular john may still be getting off cheap.

To set aside this tortured metaphor for a moment (I promise there’ll be more smutty stuff before I’m through), CMP wants to build a 145-mile high-voltage electrical transmission line from the Canadian border across western and central Maine to Lewiston, where it would connect to the grid. The power would then be shipped to Massachusetts. This line would carry juice from Hydro-Quebec, a giant publicly owned utility with lots of dams, so the electricity in question would be “clean” in the sense that it wasn’t generated using fossil fuels or radioactive protuberances. Whether that last part is actually true is a debate that has nothing to do with sex, so we’ll skip it.

Of course, there’s plenty of hard-core opposition to this idea. Environmentalists are against the despoiling of mountains and gorges that attract white-water rafters and other outdoor enthusiasts. These folks seem sincere in their concerns, but have somehow found themselves cuddled up with others whose motivations are less praiseworthy and whose commitments are more subject to alteration if the financial arrangements are sufficiently lucrative.

At the moment, they aren’t. While there’d be some construction jobs, and a few municipalities would receive extra property taxes (Lewiston might pick up $5 million to $7 million, Jay could reap $460,000), most of the state gets nothing except the chance to view some ugly towers. Meanwhile, the Bay State is being promised all sorts of rebates, and Hydro-Quebec expects to earn $200 million a year from the deal. The more venial opponents of NECAC are far less concerned with the environmental impact of the project than with grabbing a piece of that financial windfall.

State Public Advocate Barry Hobbins told Maine Public, “What I think that demonstrates is that this is a potential benefit that possibly the state of Maine should look at as part of a community benefit.”

Translation: Gimme and I’ll roll over.

Tony Buxton, the lawyer for the Industrial Energy Consumers Group, a consortium of paper mills and other big electricity users, is quoted by Maine Public as being equally easy: “To the extent [the Maine Public Utilities Commission] indicates an interest in the benefits that Hydro-Quebec receives, that greatly increases the probability that Maine will share in some of these benefits.”

Translation: If they pay enough, they can have whatever they want.

Even Governor-elect Janet Mills isn’t shy about flirting with a pay-to-play scheme, telling the Boston Globe, “I would want to see substantial mitigation of this environmental impact, as well as concrete, long-term benefits to Maine ratepayers and energy consumers before putting the welcome mat out for this project.”

Translation: Insert cash before inserting anything else.

Stopping this project cold, without so much as a peck on the cheek, won’t be easy. The Public Utilities Commission, rather than voters or legislators, has the ultimate say. But as governor, Mills nominates the three PUC commissioners, all of whom are currently appointees of outgoing Gov. Paul LePage, a supporter of NECAC and other repugnant acts. One commissioner’s term is up in March, but the others don’t expire until 2021 and 2023.

By then, we could all be in bed with CMP getting NECECed. It’ll just be a question of how much we’re getting paid.

I’d be screwed if nobody emailed me at aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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13 Responses »

  1. Bravo! The question is, can we just say no?
    #me too

  2. Please pass the vaseline.

  3. Thanks for making us laugh about this. Too bad so many people don't care about what will happen to Maine and the remaining wilderness. We are horrified with the politicians and public advocates holding their hands out like beggars.

  4. we are going to ruin the environment while trying to save it.

  5. Of course, the benefits (money) that the public officials and E groups yearn for is above and beyond the contract negotiated by CMP and the EDCs and the Maine PUC would have to allow CMP to pass this on to it's ratepayer base, dollar for dollar plus profit margin.

  6. All very interesting... all the concern about the environment and destroying Maine... Where were ya all when they started blowing up the mountain tops and putting up whirligigs? That landscape is changed forever... even after they all fall down.. How about the many truckloads of trash that every day is coming up 95 to the big landfill... Easy to blame the current Governor for some of this... Who was in charge of the State government when CMP was split up and turned it into crap?... Sure the next Governor will save us from all of that... In the meantime wanner buy a bridge?

  7. Here's the thing, I have hunted and trapped and explored the areas of Franklin County and Somerset for years, I have NEVER met more than 10 people ever who weren't cutting down trees. Now how many people actually use this "virgin portion"(it isn't virgin, the whole area has been cut at least once, most areas twice) as Al so eloquently put it? Very few compared to the number of people who will benefit from the electricity. Plus the area has already been logged to death, why? Because it is one of the few places Irving's doesn't own the logging rights to. The second biggest complaint, second to money is "Why do we have to look at it?" why do I have to look at Portland every time I go to Boston? It's an eyesore on the coast of Maine, most of the businesses cater to out of state customers, with very little if any of Maine's interior in mind. Sure we get a little sales tax from them but other than that, what do we need Portland for? How many people from the area where the line will run, go to Portland in a 10 year span? Seeing how there are not any who live in the largest portion of Al's "virgin Portion" my guess is none. The one area, Kennebec Gorge might see 100 people, every 5 years.

  8. Heartless...20 people in the gorge per year huh? that estimate makes your entire comment invalid.

  9. HB your insinuating that Irving doesn’t log the land to death also makes the entire comment invalid.

  10. It's bad enough that our water is being sold all over the world. Now, we have to help MA get electricity? Why can't they do it themselves?

  11. I never said Irving's doesn't, but it does own the rights to most of the land north of there, so loggers in the area of the new line work the hell out of the area, they are not clearing acres of untouched old growth forest.

    Kennebec Gorge is not as popular as you think it is. There is no mass exodus to go see it, it isn't on the way to go something else, it's why the area was chosen, and the line crosses above the gorge by 1000 yards, not at the gorge itself, if you go into the Maine woods, you can't see 1000 yards if you wanted to. But I guess people have to complain about something in order to be happy in life.

  12. Hrtlss Bstrd - just another prostitute Al is talking about and apparently one who has used the land up there. Has he lost all appreciation for that land? Did he ever really appreciate it? On another note: PEOPLE! If you can type a letter here, type one to the PUC, the DEP and/or the LURC. Time has been extended but it is still short. Let the proper people know you are against this proposal! Write to your town and county and let them know also.

  13. Heartless...you are ill informed again. the line crosses the Kennebec about 4 MILES (by way the crow flies) BELOW the gorge. stop spewing vastly incorrect information. 1,000 yards above the gorge would put you in Indian Pond...so, again, you're comments are invalid. also, you keep referring to Irving...do they even own land in Somerset, Franklin, or Andro counties?

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