LTE: Jill Linzee: CMP's ads, Our money

Free Press

We’ve had to endure a daily barrage of expensively produced television ads lately from Central Maine Power. The goals of their propaganda campaign are to improve their public image and to sell us on what they’re calling the “Clean Energy Corridor” — also known as the CMP Corridor or NECEC (New England Clean Energy Connect).

CMP earns an annual profit of $153 million dollars. No wonder they’re spending so much money to hold onto and expand their lucrative enterprise. But for all the money they’re spending on TV ads, high-paid lawyers, and endless lobbying efforts, they would be far more likely to win the hearts and minds of their Maine customers by redirecting some of that $153 million–dollar annual profit to reduce our exorbitantly high electric bills. 

CMP customers pay some of the highest utility rates in the country. Unfortunately that $153 million dollar profit doesn’t feed back into the Maine economy; it is largely sent overseas to Iberdrola, the Spanish company that is majority shareholder of CMP, and to banks in Norway and Qatar.

In reality, the so-called “Clean Energy Corridor” is anything but “clean.” The thousands of acres of northern Maine forest that would be clearcut to make way for the transmission lines would remove one of the most important natural resources we have to reduce carbon emissions — our trees. Hydro-Quebec’s own hydropower expansion in Quebec and Labrador has actually significantly damaged their environment, including over 60 million acres of flooded lands, which now emit high levels of both methane and carbon into the atmosphere. Neither CMP nor Hydro-Quebec have provided any data to support their claim that they will be providing Massachusetts with clean energy. In 2019, CMP hired more than 30 lobbyists in Augusta to lobby state legislators to vote against a bill that would require that a study be done to determine whether or not CMP’s claims that the project would reduce carbon emissions were true. What do they have to hide?

In fact, there are actual clean energy alternatives to the CMP Corridor project. “Over the 20-year lifetime of the proposed contract, Massachusetts ratepayers would send billions of dollars to Quebec to buy electricity — money that could be invested instead to generate jobs and renewable power generation within the region. For example, installing solar on the roofs of available buildings in New England would generate three times as much power as the proposed contract, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab.”

CMP’s ads claim that they will be creating new jobs for Maine, but any new jobs would be minimal and short term — not sustainable. And CMP has offered more than three times as much money to Vermont and New Hampshire than it has to Maine to run similar power corridors through their states to Massachusetts. Why is Maine settling for so much less? Thanks to new legislation, Maine has the potential to generate and market some of our own renewable energy to Massachusetts. We could take advantage of this opportunity to develop a lot more jobs and income for our state than CMP is offering.

I’m tired of CMP using our money — the money we pay them as ratepayers — to buy so much influence with our state legislators in Augusta. I’m tired of CMP using our money to pay for lawsuit after lawsuit to try to stop the citizen initiative from getting onto the November ballot. All of this is in their own corporate and shareholder interest, not in the interest of Maine citizens. And I’m really tired of their relentless, deceptive TV ads. CMP doesn’t even provide us with reliable electricity, with many of us going for up to a week without power during outages. And then there are all of the ratepayers across the state in endless disputes with them over their power bills.

We will have the opportunity in November to vote for or against the CMP Corridor project. For more information about that visit: nrcm.org and find CMP Transmission Line Proposal: A Bad Deal for Maine in the programs menu.

Jill Linzee, New Harbor

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