Your paper recently published a column by Greg Kesich, “Western Maine corridor vote would add new ways to say ‘no’.” While thought-provoking, it was based on the false premise that power generated by Hydro-Quebec, a foreign government-owned corporation, is clean and should be recognized as a solution to climate change. If this were true, top environmental organizations would support the NECEC Corridor project, but they don’t because this is greenwashed power.
A column by Greg Kesich was based on a false premise about Hydro-Quebec.
The truth is that, based on analysis by Brad Hager, an MIT earth sciences professor who has a home in Mercer, Hydro-Quebec’s reservoirs are among the top carbon-emitting hydro facilities in the world, and its six dirtiest reservoirs have carbon emission levels ranging from twice as high as a coal plant to that of a modern natural gas facility. Obviously, this power is not part of our climate solution.
Here in Maine, our law rightfully doesn’t recognize hydropower produced by Hydro-Quebec’s megadams as renewable; no hydro producer of more than 100 megawatts is considered renewable. This means that if NECEC were designed to sell power to Maine, it wouldn’t count towards our clean electricity requirements. But somehow, by passing this power on to Massachusetts, proponents (who stand to make billions from this deal) want you to believe this power is clean.
There’s also significant speculation about how Hydro-Quebec would fulfill this contract. Since it isn’t creating any new generation facilities, and it’s never testified under oath, common sense dictates that Hydro-Quebec plans to shift hydropower from existing customers in Canada to Massachusetts, who is willing to pay a premium for it and backfill that power with fossil fuel generated power.
New Hampshire state regulators found that “no actual greenhouse gas emission reductions would be realized” from Hydro-Quebec’s contract with Massachusetts, so they rejected the Northern Pass project, the New Hampshire version of the Maine proposal.
Hydro-Quebec (and Central Maine Power) have gone to great lengths and expense to avoid answering questions about the source of power, because they don’t want us to know that it’s a shell game designed to help HQ double its profits by 2030 (that’s HQ’s actual stated goal).
Perhaps this is why none of the Mills administration’s recent clean energy reports, Maine Won’t Wait, Strengthening Maine’s Clean Energy Economy or State of Maine Renewable Energy Goals Market Assessment mention NECEC as a solution to reducing greenhouse gases or slowing climate change. If you’re worried that opposing the CMP corridor is a “no” in response to the climate crisis, these reports outline myriad ways that Mainers can say “yes” to an affordable, reliable, clean energy economy where our residents are employed year-round in well-paid jobs.
We can and should say “yes” to clean energy generation, but only if it’s real and benefits Maine. This November, I will be voting “yes” to reject CMP’s for-profit corridor because it’s a bad deal for Maine and is more harmful than helpful in addressing the climate crisis.
Nicole Grohoski, an Ellsworth Democrat, is in her second term in the Maine House of Representatives.