NRCM news release
Farmington, ME – Voters in Farmington tonight voted decisively to oppose the Central Maine Power (CMP) corridor project. The vote is another sign that CMP’s proposal to cut a huge transmission line through the North Woods to send hydropower from Canada to Massachusetts faces deep and growing opposition from residents throughout western Maine.
“Once again people in western Maine have spoken out, sending the message loud and clear that they are opposed to CMP’s corridor,” said Dylan Voorhees, Climate and Clean Energy Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Time and time again CMP and Hydro-Quebec have refused to back up their greenwashing claims about the corridor’s climate impact, but they can’t change the fact that the project remains fundamentally flawed and deeply problematic for Maine’s people and natural resources.”
Ten towns along the proposed corridor have now voted to oppose the project or have rescinded support: Alna, Caratunk, Dennistown, Embden, Farmington, Jackman, The Forks, West Forks, Wilton, and Wiscasset. And last week, the Franklin County Commissioners voted to rescind their support and oppose the project. More than 10,000 Mainers have signed a petition opposed to the project.
“Wherever you go in Somerset and Franklin Counties, people are outraged that we would even consider destroying the natural beauty of Maine for CMP’s money-making scheme,” said Darryl Wood, a New Sharon resident, Farmington property owner, registered Maine Guide, and director of a local business. “However you cut it, the damage done by CMP’s corridor far outweighs any purported benefits. It’s a bad deal for Maine and a bad deal for Franklin County.”
The vote comes at a time when the CMP corridor faces increased scrutiny by the Maine Legislature. A bill (LD 640) that would require an independent analysis of the project’s climate impact received a key public hearing on Friday March 15. Over five hours of testimony was presented, the vast majority of which was in support of the bill.
As part of the ongoing regulatory review of the corridor project, CMP and Hydro-Quebec have successfully avoided having to back up their claims about the impact on emissions, and their lawyers continue to proactively fight any attempt by opponents to introduce testimony related to climate change. And despite claiming that it has plenty of power to send to Massachusetts, Hydro-Quebec recently asked its customers to reduce demand for electricity or else it would need to purchase power from neighboring power grids.
A new bill (LD 1383) would increase local control over projects like the CMP corridor, by removing the PUC’s existing authority to override local permitting or zoning decisions for projects that are not needed for reliability. Given votes like the ones in Farmington and Wilton, the Legislature will now need to decide whether or not to empower or override local decision-making.
The project faces many layers of review, any one of which could ultimately lead to its defeat if a permit is denied. Upcoming milestones for the ongoing review of CMP’s corridor project, include:
• The Maine PUC staff will be releasing the “Examiner’s Report” on the project Friday March 29 and responses will be due April 8. The report includes the conclusions and recommended decisions of the hearing examiners. It is not the final PUC decision but informs the Commissioners as they make their final decision on the case.
• DEP/LUPC hearings on the CMP corridor project will run April 1-5 at the University of Maine at Farmington. In advance of April’s hearings, CMP is attempting to silence the voices of state experts and local citizens. NRCM attorney Sue Ely recently wrote to the DEP opposing CMP’s blatant attempt to limit testimony in opposition to their project.
• Editor’s note: The public hearings where residents will have the opportunity to comment, express their opposition, and urge the DEP and LUPC to withhold permits will be held in the Lincoln Auditorium on the evenings on Tuesday, April 2 at 6:00 p.m. in Lincoln Auditorium and Thursday, April 4 at 6:00 p.m.
• In addition to PUC, DEP, and LUPC approval, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has to approve the project and CMP would have to get several local, state and federal permits for the project.
For more information and background material on the CMP transmission corridor, visit https://www.nrcm.org/climate/cmp-transmission-line-proposal/.