LTE: ‘Reimbursement’ Not So Much

Free Press

To fully explain CMP’s “environmental, clean” corridor would go beyond the word limit. Here’s a very condensed version. It is not environmentally sound nor is their thievery reimbursement adequate.

Central Maine Power is managed by Avangrid, a subsidiary of mega-corporation Iberdrola in Spain, a company that has consolidated its position as one of the leading energy companies in the United States with more than $30 billion in assets. As of 2013, the largest shareholder of Iberdrola was Qatar Investment Holding in Qatar, followed by Norges Bank in Norway, Kutxabank and Bankia both in Spain.

Iberdrola offered Maine a paltry $258 million “reimbursement” to run the CMP non-environmental corridor through our state. What are Maine’s “negotiators” ignoring that New Hampshire’s did not?

The breakdown is $258 million spread over 40 years! What will happen in 40 years, let alone 10? Will they walk away before full reimbursement is made? Keep in mind these numbers aren’t exact, as populations, households, businesses, etc. are moving targets and negotiations were behind closed doors, but they will give you a good idea of how we are getting fleeced.

$140 million [of the total would be paid in cash relief to ratepayers, meaning] roughly 56 cents per month savings on the average household bill. But, despite CMP’s billing error fiasco to thousands of their customers, their threat to disconnect customers and foot-dragging in fixing the issue, PUC rewarded their misconduct by permitting them to raise our rates — which will basically wipe out the 56-cent-per-month reduction. We are already seeing an increase, with more to come, so we can wipe out this $140 million “benefit” and watch it go into Iberdrola’s coffers.

$50 million would go to low-income households, or $1.25 million per year to about 140,000 households, [averaging] 74 cents per month, minus the recent rate hike.

$15 million, or $375,000 per year, would be used for broadband, which should be installed within the next couple of years — not 40. Cost estimates are $30,000 per mile, totaling an estimated cost of over $1 billion. By the way, we rank 49th in quality and availability.

$15 million would be used for heat pumps. If $1,000 were handed out a year, only 375 households would be eligible, or 15,000 over 40 years – out of a population of approximately 518,000 households. According to Maine’s website, heat pumps average $4,000 installed, less a rebate if eligible. Who can foresee technology even in 10 or 20 years? Given the cost of heat pumps even with this assistance and rebates, not everyone could afford one — allowing those who can afford them to get assistance, while leaving those most in need out in the cold.

$15 million would be used for charging stations. A good idea, but what is the cost to install each station — the real cost? How many electric cars are in Maine? Will they be affordable for the average Mainer? Again, we are using Iberdrola’s power grid to power them. Would it make more sense to install the solar “roads” that Sweden is installing or something as innovative? Once installed, the power comes from the sun, not the grid. I realize there are no-sun days, rainy days, snow days, but if Sweden has been successful, get their technology and look at the pros and cons!

$5 million would be used to spur growth in Franklin County — $125,000/year to fight over. You can’t build one house for that, let alone spur much growth. What will that growth look like? Who gets it and how much? Let’s be specific. Even if they got $5 million in one lump sum the first year, it wouldn’t do much for an entire county.

$18 million, or $450,000 per year, would be spread over several projects. Four of them:

a) Mitigate wetlands. Explain how $90,000 to $100,000 will be adequate to “repair” one wetland, let alone many. Wetlands are the world’s unsung heroes and we treat them as though they have no purpose!

b) Vocational education. With the cost of education, this is a pittance.

c) Promote tourism. Rather than promote an industry with low wages, that meager amount should be going into industry with high-paying jobs. Maine has, for too long, ignored those that serve the people yet can’t exist on their wages.

d. “Considerations” to the Passamaquoddy Peoples! What does that mean – “considerations”? What’s the amount? Shameful no matter what it is

*Update: With opposition mounting, Iberdrola sweetened the pot by offering to “fast-track” $170 million (for rate payers, broadband, heat pumps and charging stations; nothing mentioned to fast-track for low-income or “projects”). Added to the pot — selling a bit of power to Maine and a few more “promises” — but with caveats, of course. Selling power to us would result in a 3% discount, if the excess power is “significant” and available over a “substantial” period of time — what do “significant” and “substantial” mean? — and 3%! These small discounts will soon be wiped out once the PUC gives Iberdrola permission to raise rates again and again to recoup Iberdrola’s “reimbursements.” The PUC normally allows rate increases, even when not deserved.

The source of this corridor power comes from dams built by destroying thousands of acres of forests, killing wildlife, and displacing Indigenous peoples by putting their communities under water. Forests are important carbon sinks and what has been lost by creating these dams will never be replaced by this so-called “clean power.”

No foreign entity should ever own any part of Maine, especially our infrastructure — but they do!

We need to stop worrying about migrants taking our jobs — because they don’t. We need to start worrying about corporations taking our resources and controlling our infrastructure — because they do!

Leslie Poole, Rockland

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  • Sandi Howard
    published this page in News 2020-12-19 06:02:36 -0500