A new effort to give state voters a say over Central Maine Power’s proposed transmission line through Maine’s western woods is now formally launched.
Tom Saviello, a former lawmaker and organizer with the “No CMP Corridor” campaign, says he received a final sign-off Friday from the secretary of state to start gathering petition signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot next year.
“To require the Legislature to take certain actions that in essence have the potential to stop the line from going through. And we’ll be starting to collect signatures probably this weekend,” he says.
The initiative would require a two-thirds vote by the Legislature for any transmission project that spans more than 50 miles in Maine, and make it retroactive to include the CMP proposal. It would also ban so-called “high-impact” transmission projects from the upper Kennebec region.
A CMP-backed political action committee says the initiative is written so broadly that it could hurt other projects in Maine, and “upend Maine’s renewable energy future.”
“No CMP Corridor” is a grassroots organization. But the petition drive will get an assist from another, called “Mainers for Local Power,” which is financed by power companies that operate fossil-fuel plants in Maine and the region, Calpine, Vistra and Nextera. Those companies could lose profits if the CMP project goes online, bringing hydro-electric energy from Quebec into the New England transmission grid.
That political action committee this week filed documents showing it’s paid more than a half million dollars to a consultant group to help the petition drive.
In a statement, CMP’s PAC, called “Clean Energy Matters, said “efforts to kill the New England Clean Energy Connect project are less about the environment and more about the bottom (line) of oil and gas corporations – and spending by NextEra proves it.”