To help you decipher what’s next in the review process for Central Maine Power’s (CMP) proposed corridor and how you can get involved, here’s more information about what the CMP’s for-profit transmission line faces in the months to come.
Flawed PUC Decision
- On April 11, the Maine Public Utilities Commission issued a certificate of public convenience for CMP’s corridor.
- This is the wrong decision, especially because CMP has failed to prove its proposal would reduce carbon emissions globally (looking beyond New England). Please read our statement here.
- The Examiner’s Report issued by PUC staff includes several critical findings:
- The project would have a “significant detrimental” impact on scenic and recreational resources, tourism, and the local economy.
- CMP failed to evaluate alternatives, such as burying all or a significant portion of the line, that could have mitigated some of the harmful effects of the line.
- CMP has demonstrated an “unsettling disregard for certain members of the host communities.”
- The PUC is one of five agencies that can issue or deny a permit to CMP’s proposal.
At the Maine State House: Bills on Global Greenhouse Gas Impacts and Local Control
- Maine legislators are considering several bills related to CMP’s corridor.
- LD 640 would require the Maine DEP to pursue an independent study of the global greenhouse gas effects of CMP’s power line. Such a study does not yet exist for this project. Please listen to NRCM’s testimony in support of LD 640.
- LD 1383 concerns the rights of Maine residents, municipalities, and property owners. This bill would prohibit utilities from being able to override local control—such as municipal permitting—for optional, for-profit transmission projects (as opposed to projects needed for reliability). Other business and developers in Maine do not have rights to supersede local laws. The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) testified in support of these local control bills, as they would—and should—apply to any circumstance where a utility is not acting for the provision of public services.
- Ask your legislators to support LD 640 and LD 1383. Update: The Senate passed LD 640 by a vote of 30-4 on May 9. Please contact your State Representative to urge them to support LD 640.
DEP and LUPC: Public Comments Still Accepted
- The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) must consider whether CMP’s power line would impact scenic character and wildlife habitat along the route of the proposed corridor. DEP must also assess whether CMP has shown that there are not any “reasonable alternatives” to the proposed route of the corridor.
- The Land Use Planning Commission’s (LUPC) review assesses whether CMP’s power line should get a “special exception” permit to cross three resource-protection sub-districts: under the Kennebec River; near Beattie Pond; and across the Appalachian Trail.
- From April 1 through 5 in Farmington, the DEP and LUPC held hearings on CMP’s proposal.
- NRCM testified in opposition to CMP’s proposal at these hearings, which featured important testimony on the threats of the corridor to brook trout habitat and the dangerous fragmentation effects of cutting a new 53-mile corridor through Maine’s North Woods.
- Opponents of the project outnumbered its supporters by more than 2 to 1 at public comment sessions last week, reflecting the robust statewide opposition to CMP’s transmission line.
- Although CMP opposed allowing testimony on greenhouse gas emissions at the hearings, the DEP will accept written comments on this topic.
- Members of the public can submit comments to the DEP (firstname.lastname@example.org) and LUPC (email@example.com) until May 20, 2019. Please focus your comments on both agencies’ review criteria.
- The DEP estimates that it will reach its decision by fall 2019.
Massachusetts DPU: Skepticism Emerges of CMP’s Greenhouse Gas Claims
- The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities will determine whether to deliver a permit to Central Maine Power, as its proposed power line is in response to a Massachusetts law regarding its energy goals.
- NRCM testified at the DPU in July 2018 in opposition to CMP’s proposal.
- The Massachusetts Attorney General raised concerns that CMP’s proposal could allow Massachusetts to meet its energy goals without achieving global greenhouse gas reductions.
- We do not yet know when the DPU will release its decision.
Army Corps of Engineers: What Alternatives Should CMP Have Considered?
- The Army Corps of Engineers is assessing whether CMP’s proposed mitigation measures compensate for the impacts its transmission corridor would have on Maine’s natural resources.
- Army Corps is also asking for recommendations on alternative route sites or mitigation measures that CMP hasn’t yet identified in its application.
- You can read more about Army Corps’ review here. Update: The deadline to submit comments to the ACOE ended on April 25, 2019.
U.S. Department of Energy (Presidential Permit)
- A Presidential Permit is required for the construction electricity transmission projects that cross U.S. borders.
- The Department of Energy (DOE) must determine if CMP’s project is in the public interest, and DOE will also consider environmental impacts.
- Comments are no longer accepted.