What is Central Maine Power's Proposal for a New Transmission Line?
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 Quebec to an interconnection with the existing New England grid in Lewiston. About 53 miles of the transmission line route would create a new transmission corridor requiring clearing a large, currently undeveloped section of Maine’s North Woods.
Under the proposal CMP would also expand the other 92 miles of existing power lines, requiring clearing more vegetation and undertaking additional development within existing corridors. CMP’s proposed line includes above-ground transmission lines across the Appalachian Trail, 263 wetlands, 115 streams, 12 inland waterfowl and wading bird habitat areas, and near Beattie Pond, a Class 6 remote pond.
Why the Natural Resources Council of Maine Opposes the CMP Power Line
- It wouldn’t reduce climate-changing pollution, and may actually increase it.
- It would cut 53 miles of new transmission lines through undeveloped forests in Maine’s North Woods, harming brook trout, deer, other wildlife, and the tourism economy.
- It would jeopardize the construction of new in-state renewable energy projects and clean energy jobs.
- It would generate billions of dollars of profit for Central Maine Power and Hydro-Quebec while offering very little to Maine’s people, businesses, and environment.
Read our press statement to learn the reasons why NRCM opposes the NECEC line.
Proposed Transmission Line's Risks Vastly Outweigh Purported Benefits
Despite CMP's public claims that its power line would provide "clean energy" to New England, CMP has been unable to demonstrate in review proceedings that its proposed power line would provide any reduction in climate-changing emissions.
CMP has 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 Massachusetts instead. Redirecting existing power supplies to a new buyer does not benefit the climate. If selling hydroelectric power to Massachusetts through 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), then the NECEC project would not reduce climate-changing emissions: there would be just as much climate pollution created with or without this power line.
Further, CMP 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.
The line could also harm Maine’s in-state renewable energy industry (including wind and solar) by reducing demand; creating new congestion on our electricity transmission system; and increasing the cost for these projects to connect to the grid and make it impossible to determine the true climate impact from this project. On top of this, we know that the transmission line would harm wildlife, fisheries, recreational resources, and clean water.
What are the Environmental and Climate Concerns of the Proposed Transmission Line?
NRCM opposes this project because of significant concerns about the environmental impacts of the power line combined with the potential that the project will provide no reductions in climate-changing emissions and might harm local renewable energy development. Maine people deserve a fair, science-based review, not a rush to judgment that benefits two mega-corporations instead of benefitting Maine people and the environment.
This proposed transmission line is a bad deal for Maine. Central Maine Power, a company that has consistently and aggressively opposed clean energy policy in Maine for decades, now wants to build a power line through our state to provide Canadian power with no verifiable climate benefits to Massachusetts. The line would harm Maine's environment and renewable energy industry. We can do better.
CMP Transmission Line Would Not Reduce Climate-changing Carbon Pollution According to Study
An analysis by environmental and renewable energy organizations concludes that the transmission line through western Maine (NECEC) proposed by Central Maine Power (CMP) and Hydro-Quebec would not reduce carbon pollution and therefore would have no benefit for climate change. Instead the line would redirect existing generation and enable Hydro-Quebec to profit from “green-washing” dirty, fossil-fuel power. These findings directly undermine one of the central claims by CMP about why the power line is “needed.”
Opposition to CMP Corridor Continues to Grow
The list of Maine towns that have rescinded their initial support of the CMP proposal or have voted to oppose the project continues to grow. The following towns have rescinded their support or come out in opposition to CMP’s proposed transmission line:
- Alna (rescinded letter of support)
- Caratunk (rescinded letter of support)
- Dennistown (wrote letter in opposition to project)
- Durham (rescinded letter of support)
- Embden (Select Board rescinded support)
- Farmington (town residents voted to rescind support and oppose the project)
- Greenville (town residents voted (290-58) to oppose the project)
- Industry (Select Board and town residents rescind support and oppose the project)
- Jackman (town residents voted to oppose)
- Moose River (town residents voted to oppose)
- New Sharon (town residents voted (82-4) to oppose the project)
- Pownal (rescinded letter of support and town voted (76-27) to oppose project)
- Starks (town residents rejected motion to support project)
- The Forks (town residents voted to oppose)
- West Forks (town residents voted to oppose)
- Wilton (town residents voted (162-1) to rescind support and oppose the project)
- Wiscasset (rescinded letter of support)
Franklin County Commissioners voted to rescind support as well.
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.
NRCM Podcast Episode: CMP Transmission Line
Central Maine Power wants to build a transmission line through Maine’s treasured North Woods. In this episode we’ll tell you why it’s bad for Maine’s environment and people. NRCM Clean Energy Staff Attorney Sue Ely walks you through our concerns, shares updates about the review process, and lets you know how to get involved. Listen to podcast.
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.
CMP has thus far refused to provide proof that its proposed power line would offer benefits to the climate; its partner, Hydro-Quebec, is notably absent from the review process. This means that the Canadian corporation doesn't need to testify under oath about the claims CMP publicly makes on its behalf. Despite CMP's public messaging, one of its attorneys recently wrote to Maine DEP that "nowhere has CMP stated that the Project's purpose and need includes GHG emissions reductions." The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office has also raised concerns that CMP's power line would not reduce greenhouse gases.
Statements from the Natural Resources Council of Maine about CMP Transmission Line:
- U.S. EPA Says CMP's Permit Application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is Incomplete May 3, 2019
- Statewide Poll Shows Strong Opposition to CMP Corridor April 1, 2019
- CMP “Settlement” Less Than Meets the Eye, Opposition to Corridor Continues to Grow Feb. 20, 2019
- Maine DEP Calls CMP’s Transmission Line Application “Insufficient” and “Incomplete” – CMP Timeline Delayed Even More Nov. 5, 2018
- PUC Delays CMP Power Line Hearings, Per Request by NRCM, Others Oct. 26, 2018
- Mainers Overwhelmingly Oppose CMP Transmission Line Oct. 18, 2018
- "New Study Shows CMP Transmission Project Would Not Reduce Climate-changing Carbon Pollution" Oct. 17, 2018
- NRCM June 2018 Statement: CMP has Not Demonstrated Climate Benefits for Transmission Project
- NRCM testimony at August 2018 Massachusetts DPU hearing
- NRCM statement in opposition to proposed CMP transmission line Feb. 21, 2018
News and Op-eds
- Fall Maine Environment newsletter article by Dylan Voorhees, NRCM Climate and Clean Energy Project Director
- CMP Plans to Bury Proposed Transmission Line Under Kennebec Gorge - Portland Press Herald
- Report Challenges Environmental Benefits of CMP Project - Portland Press Herald
- Patagonia Joins Fight Against CMP Transmission Line through Maine - Portland Press Herald
- Central Maine Power Proposal Way Over the Line - by George Smith
- Central Maine Power Project a Bad Deal for Maine - by Senator Tom Saviello (R-Franklin)
- Project would Bring Renewable Energy to Mass. by Cutting through Wilderness in Maine - Boston Globe
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
On February 21, 2019, CMP submitted a proposed settlement agreement to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). If accepted, this settlement agreement would allow CMP to get a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) from the PUC. NRCM is strongly opposed to this project because it will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will harm Maine’s environment and renewable energy industry. In our comments in opposition to the proposed settlement agreement we explain how the proposed settlement agreement doesn’t address any of our primary concerns about this project.