What is the New England Clean Energy Connect Proposal?
Central Maine Power (CMP) is proposing to build a 145-mile, high-voltage, direct current transmission line, called the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), from the Quebec-Maine border to an interconnection with the existing New England grid in Lewiston. About 53 miles of NECEC’s proposed route would create a brand new transmission corridor; requiring clearing of a large, currently undisturbed, swath of Maine’s North Woods.
Under the proposal CMP would also expand the other 92 miles of transmission line, requiring clearing more vegetation and undertaking additional development within existing corridors. CMP’s proposed line includes above-ground transmission lines across the Kennebec River Gorge, the Appalachian Trail, 263 wetlands, 115 streams, 12 inland waterfowl and wading bird habitat areas, and near Beattie Pond, a Class 6 remote pond.
What is NRCM's position on CMP's NECEC proposal?
Read our press statement to learn the reasons why NRCM opposes the New England Clean Energy Connect transmission line.
New England Clean Energy Connect Risks Outweigh Benefits
CMP has been unable to demonstrate that this transmission line would provide any environmental benefits, such as a reduction in climate-changing emissions. CMP claims that the NECEC would provide “clean energy” to New England but admits that it does not actually know where this energy would come from, beyond being supplied by Hydro-Québec (HQ). Research has shown that hydroelectric power from northern boreal reservoirs like those operated by Hydro-Québec can generate far more climate change emissions than previously recognized. Without knowing more about the source of the power, it is impossible to determine the magnitude and significance of those emissions.
CMP has also failed to demonstrate that its proposed contract with Hydro-Québec would not merely redirect existing power supplies, now used in Canada or New York, to MA instead. Re-directing existing power supplies to a new buyer does not benefit the climate. If selling hydroelectric power to New England over the NECEC line results in current Hydro-Québec hydroelectric power customers having to switch to other sources of power, such as coal or natural gas, the NECEC project would actually harm our climate.
The NECEC could also create new congestion on our electricity transmission system, which would crowd out in-state renewable energy, including wind and solar.
Without additional information, it is impossible to determine whether this project will benefit or harm our climate. The lack of transparency from HQ and CMP is very troubling. We know the transmission line would harm wildlife, fisheries, recreational resources, and clean water .
What Are the Environmental and Climate Concerns of New England Clean Energy Connect?
NRCM opposes this project because of significant concerns about the environmental impact of the transmission line combined with the potential that the project will provide no reductions in climate-changing emissions and might harm local renewable energy development. NRCM is also very concerned about statements from the LePage Administration about the NECEC, specifically the Administration’s promising to “push it right through” the permitting process. Maine people deserve a fair, science-based review, not a rush to judgment that benefits two foreign-owned companies.
The NECEC seems like a bad deal for Maine. A company that has consistently and aggressively opposed clean energy policy in Maine for decades (Central Maine Power) now wants to build a transmission line through our state to provide Canadian power of unknown origin to Massachusetts. We can do better.
Add Your Name to Tell Decision Makers in Maine and Massachusetts to Deny CMP's Permits
We oppose Central Maine Power’s (CMP’s) proposal to build a 145-mile transmission line from the Québec-Maine border to Lewiston because it would harm Maine forests and wildlife, suppress Maine’s renewable energy industry, and could actually increase climate change emissions, all without any clear benefit to Maine or Massachusetts. Please sign the petition to urge decision makers in Maine and Massachusetts to deny CMP’s permits.
CMP’s claims that the NECEC proposal would provide “maximum environmental and energy benefits” are not supported by the limited information that is available. NRCM is urging the Public Utilities Commission, Land Use Planning Commission, and Maine Department of Environmental Protection to require CMP to provide specific facts about the sources of electricity served by this proposed transmission line and the specific environmental impacts and climate changing emissions associated with these facilities in order to make informed permitting decisions.
News and Op-eds
Reports that question the climate benefits of NECEC or Northern Pass:
View CMP’s Site Location of Development application here.
View filings in the PUC proceeding 2017-00232 here.
Detailed map of the proposed transmission route from Canada to Lewiston