NRCM news release
April 11, 2019 (Hallowell, ME) – The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) today issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity for Central Maine Power’s (CMP) corridor project. In a statement issued after the vote, Sue Ely, a Staff Attorney at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, called the decision deeply flawed and warned the enormous transmission line will do much more harm than good:
“Today the PUC chose CMP’s corporate interests over the interests of Maine and its people. The PUC’s deeply flawed decision is based on overinflated benefits and ignores the very real harm this enormous transmission line would inflict on Maine.
“It understates the damage this project would cause to Maine’s North Woods, the negative impact it would have on local clean energy projects, and the failure by CMP to demonstrate that the project would provide actual net benefits for our climate. At every juncture, Mainers have voiced their overwhelming opposition to this project, and we are confident that they will continue to do so during the multiple permitting processes that still lie ahead for the project.”
The PUC’s decision to grant a certificate of public convenience and necessity is but one step in a multi-agency (and multi-state) permitting and review process that will determine the ultimate fate of the proposed corridor. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Land Use Planning Commission are currently reviewing the project and a final decision is not expected until Fall 2019. CMP also has to receive several local and federal permits, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities must also sign off on the project.
The Examiner’s Report that was issued by PUC staff included several notable recommended findings, including:
- 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.”
CMP’s troubled corridor project is facing widespread opposition across Maine:
- 11 towns along the proposed corridor, in addition to the Franklin County Commissioners, have now voted to oppose the project or have rescinded support.
- A recent statewide poll showed 65% of Mainers oppose the project, and the numbers get worse for CMP in the region directly affected by the project: 90% of voters in Franklin County and 83% of voters in Somerset County are opposed to the proposed power line.
- More than 10,000 Mainers have signed a petition opposing the project.
The project also faces increased scrutiny by the Maine Legislature. One bill, LD 640, would require an independent analysis of the project’s climate impact and a trio of bills, LD 1383, LD 271, and LD 1363, would protect local control over for-profit transmission projects like the CMP corridor.