CMP Transmission Line Would Not Reduce Climate-changing Carbon Pollution According to New Study
A new 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.”
Please add your name to the list of opponents of this project: sign our petition.
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 the Quebec-Maine border to an interconnection with the existing New England grid in Lewiston. About 53 miles of the transmission line 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 power line, 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
Read our press statement to learn the reasons why NRCM opposes the NECEC line.
Proposed Transmission Line's Risks Outweigh Benefits
Despite CMP's claims that the NECEC would provide "clean energy" to New England, CMP has been unable to demonstrate that this power line would provide any reduction in climate-changing emissions and 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 definitely not reduce climate-changing emissions and could actually harm our climate.
The line could also harm our 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. However, we know 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 impact 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. 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.
This proposed transmission line is 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 power line through our state to provide Canadian power with no verifiable climate benefits to Massachusetts but verifiable harm to Maine's environment and renewable energy industry. 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.
Statements from the Natural Resources Council of Maine about CMP Transmission Line:
- NRCM Statement
- 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
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