by Ben Hanstein
Daily Bulldog news story
FARMINGTON – County commissioners will draft a letter to Central Maine Power after the state senator representing Franklin County expressed concerns with how the project would benefit local communities.
Commissioners previously submitted a letter in support of the project, which would run a 145-mile transmission line from the Canadian border in western Somerset County down to a new AC/DC converter station in Lewiston. The project would deliver 1,200 megawatts of power generated by a Canadian hydroelectric company, Hydro-Québec, to Massachusetts. In Franklin County, roughly nine miles of line would be located in Farmington, seven miles in Jay and roughly four miles scattered through other communities.
State Sen. Tom Saviello (R – Wilton) has approached local select boards and, on Tuesday, the commissioners to outline his concerns with the project, which he says will have a local impact without significant benefit to the region.
Saviello said that he became concerned after reviewing the bid proposals submitted by CMP and other companies in response to Massachusetts’ request for proposals. Eversource’s Northern Pass proposal in New Hampshire, Saviello said, involved a $200 million in funds earmarked for economic development, conservation and clean energy, among other benefits.
“In the state of Maine proposal, crickets, nothing,” Saviello said, referring to economic development support. “I want the environment protected and I just want us treated right.”
Saviello said that while the project would make use of existing transmission lines in Franklin County—the 53 miles of new line would be closer to the Canadian border – it would involve widening the corridor from 150 feet to 300 feet, installing 170-foot towers to accommodate the new lines.
Commissioners agreed to write a letter to CMP, inviting them to attend a meeting and discuss the issue.
Also on Tuesday, Saviello approached the Wilton Selectboard with similar concerns, having previously appeared before the Farmington board.
Wednesday, CMP did announce the creation of a Memorandum of Understanding for “investment in western Maine conservation and nature-based tourism infrastructure,” relating to CMP’s plan to have a portion of the transmission line to cross the Kennebec River in Somerset County. Details of the agreement have not been made public year, although CMP says it involves a “substantial local fund,” the development of a visitor center, the transfer of lands along the Dead River to the nonprofit Western Mountains and Rivers Corporation.