Kevin Ross, a rafting guide for Dead River Expeditions, points to a section of the Kennebec River Gorge where CMP proposes a major transmission line crossing. It would arc over an otherwise undeveloped seven mile stretch of the river. Ross opposes the plan, but CMP and other stakeholders have struck a mitigation deal that would include donations of recreational land and funding for economic development in the West Forks area. Credit: Fred Bever | Maine Public

Central Maine Power and a group of stakeholders in western Maine where the company wants to build a major new transmission line have struck a deal to compensate for the project’s potential effects on local resources, including the scenic Kennebec River Gorge.

Sandie Thompson, a local selectman, says she was initially opposed to the project. But after hearing about the mitigation package, including CMP donations of land for trails and money for economic development, she has come around.

“There’s less and less people coming to the outdoors because of the technical boom, with all the digital stuff,” says Thompson. “So we’ve got to find a way to bring people back to the outdoors. So if that can help that would be great. There’s a lot of people against it and a lot of people for it, but unfortunately… we need power.”

The transmission line would bring hydro-electricity from Canada to customers in Massachusetts. The details of the deal are not being released yet. The value could be reduced if regulators bar CMP from building the transmission line over the gorge. Other options, including a $37 million tunnel under the gorge, would be more costly and would likely reduce funds available for mitigation.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.