By Dee Menear, Franklin Journal
Sun Journal news story
FARMINGTON — Most of the nearly 30 people testifying at a public hearing Friday evening urged the Public Utilities Commission to reject Central Maine Power’s application to build a 145-mile transmission line through western Maine.
Nearly 150 people filled the Lincoln Auditorium at University of Maine at Farmington for the PUC hearing on the application.
The $950 million New England Clean Energy Connect project proposes building a transmission line to deliver power generated by Hydro-Quebec to users Massachusetts.
The line through Maine would begin in Beattie Township in Franklin County and extend east and south into Somerset, Androscoggin and Cumberland counties.
Opposition to the project was overwhelmingly voiced by most people who presented testimony. The common theme was the impact the project would have on the environment, natural resources and tourism; as well as a lack of job creation and economic benefits.
State Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, spoke against the project, citing the lack of an economic agreement which would benefit local communities.
Saviello said a group of representatives from the Franklin County Commission and the towns of Wilton, Farmington, Chesterville and New Sharon had been working with CMP to reach an economic agreement. A meeting scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 30, to continue discussion of the agreement was canceled by CMP at the last minute, he said.
Without benefits in place for local communities, Saviello asked PUC commissioners to vote against the project.
“We are no longer a colony of Massachusetts,” he said.
Old Canada Road Scenic Byway Committee Chairman Thomas Moore of Bingham also urged commissioners to vote against the project.
“Why do we want to harm the existing, strong tourism economy we have, especially in Franklin and Somerset counties, which the project directly threatens?” Moore asked.
Susan Davis of Kingfield referred to Flagstaff Plantation, Dead River Plantation, and Bigelow Township in Somerset County that were flooded in the mid-1900s when CMP constructed a dam on the Dead River.
“We’ve already lost three towns to CMP’s holding pond,” Davis said before asking commissioners to reject the application.
Six people spoke in favor of the project.
Representing the PUC at the hearing were Chairman Bruce Williamson and Commissioner Mark Vannoy. Mitch Tannenbaum was the presiding officer.
Friday’s hearing was held simultaneously with another at The Forks Town Hall in The Forks Plantation in Somerset County. A third meeting will be scheduled Hallowell, Tannenbaum said.