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Sandi Howard is a Registered Maine Guide and leader of the grassroots opposition to the CMP corridor. Tom Saviello is a former state senator and lead petitioner for the citizen initiative that became Question 1.
As volunteers who have spent years fighting against Central Maine Power Co.’s transmission line corridor, we are extremely disappointed in the Bangor Daily News editorial board’s continued support of the project. We urge readers to vote “yes” on Question 1 to reject the CMP corridor because we believe it’s a bad deal for Maine.
While we appreciate the fact that climate change is real, we join New Hampshire regulators (who rejected a similar project through their state), the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Appalachian Mountain Club and Sierra Club as skeptics that this project will do anything to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The only thing green about the CMP corridor is the profits that will be made by foreign corporations. Mainers will get pennies per month and a special part of our state will be destroyed, simply because CMP was the lowest bidder to Massachusetts, which had 46 options to fulfill its clean energy needs.
The CMP corridor might be built to bring so-called clean energy from Hydro-Quebec’s greenhouse gas polluting dams to Massachusetts, but only a small amount of this power would be available to Mainers. In other words, for as little as 9 cents a customer per month in return, Maine would essentially serve as an extension cord, bringing Quebec hydro power onto our grid, then exporting it as “clean energy” to Massachusetts.
In New Hampshire, regulators decided that the benefits weren’t worth clear cutting a corridor through an iconic region of their state even though Eversource agreed to bury 60 miles of the line. The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee found that:
“No actual greenhouse gas emission reductions would be realized if no new source of hydropower is introduced and the power delivered by the Project to New England is simply diverted from Ontario or New York. The record is unclear as to whether the hydropower is new or will be diverted from another region.”
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, new electric generation must be created to replace polluting sources. Hydro-Quebec made the following statement to Massachusetts:
“No new hydroelectric generation projects will be required, there will be no incremental environmental impacts from hydroelectric generation as a result of this Proposal.”
During the New England Clean Energy Connect permitting process, Gabrielle Roumy, an independent consultant and former Hydro-Quebec employee, advised the Maine Public Utilities Commission that, “At this point we’re still comfortable with our assumptions that, you know, energy would generally be redirected from other markets to NECEC if it were built.”
Former Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office was also concerned the contract language left open the possibility that hydropower already being sold would simply be moved to the new contract for the corridor.
As reported by the BDN, “HQ already sells significant amounts of electricity into New England through other existing lines. The proposed contracts don’t require the energy that HQ sells over the proposed transmission line to be in addition to that total. Instead, the language in the contracts would allow HQ to take the energy it already sells into the shared New England electricity market and redirect it to the proposed line for higher prices, critics said.”
In other words, Hydro-Quebec could simply shift power already sold on multiple existing lines to New England onto one line with a higher fixed rate for the utility. But we will never know for sure because Hydro-Quebec never testified before any regulatory body about the source of the power. Additionally, CMP’s lobbyists fought to kill Sen. Brownie Carson’s bill, LD 640, which would have studied the global greenhouse gas benefits of the CMP corridor.
We believe that if CMP’s lofty climate benefit claims were real, they would have advocated for LD 640, because the results would have gained the support of Maine’s environmental community. Instead, they helped kill the bill.
There’s more to show the corridor is not about greenhouse gas reduction. As CMP’s spokesman said at a Wiscasset selectboard meeting in March 2019: “The question of whether this [NECEC] will make a difference in climate change, CMP has no, no doubt that it will. We can’t guarantee it. That’s not our job, that’s not our business.”
Finally, we would be remiss in not mentioning where this power comes from. It is from flooded reservoirs on unceded land of Canadian Indigenous tribes. Lucien Wabanonik, an elected councillor with Lac Simon’s band council in Quebec wrote in the BDN, “HQ has waged a well-funded PR campaign in Maine to convince voters and regulators that their hydropower is ‘clean,’ but the generation of this power has cost my people everything.”
Please join us in voting “yes” on Question 1. It is a bad deal for Maine and may do nothing to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.