Controversial Maine power corridor gets final major permit

WMTW-8 PORTLAND, Maine — The New England Energy Connect project has received its final major permit, but a federal appeals judge has placed a 30-day hold on some construction. The judge's ruling came after AVANGRID, the parent company of Central Maine Power, which is behind the project, said clearing work had started to build temporary access roads that will facilitate the construction of the transmission line. The order stems from a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club and other groups in December. They wanted a district court judge put a hold on the Army Corps of Engineers permit, which would have effectively blocked construction. The judge denied the request. An appeal was filed by environmentalists, and the appeals court judge sided with them Friday. AVANGRID said it would continue with construction on other portions of the transmission line until that legal issue is resolved. The $1 billion project will bring electricity from Hydro-Quebec through Maine and into the New England power grid. New England Clean Energy Connect calls for widening existing corridors, but a new swath would be cut through 53 miles of wilderness in western Maine. The lawsuit filed by environmentalists deals with the new portion of the corridor that needs to be built. The project has faced fierce opposition, including a failed effort last year that would have asked voters to stop the project. The Maine Supreme Court ruled the ballot initiative violated the state constitution. A new ballot initiative has been launched this year to try and stop the project AVANGRID and supporters of the project have said it would bring more clean energy to Maine and New England. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

LTE: NECEC is not about reliability

Kennebec Journal The NECEC is not an electric reliability project. The purpose of the New England Clean Energy Connect project is to bring hydropower from Quebec, through Maine, to meet the contracts between Hydro-Quebec and three utilities in Massachusetts for the benefit of Massachusetts and two foreign corporations. The NECEC does not support the reliability of the Maine power grid. A recent ad featuring a paid supporter of the NECEC project alleges that the NECEC project supports electric reliability. Do not believe this falsehood. John Nicholas Winthrop

LTE: Hydro-Quebec Energy Source?

The Free Press The proponents of the new “energy corridor” linking Maine to Hydro-Quebec insist that Maine will profit from this electricity, which will be far cheaper than fossil fuel–generated electricity which now supplies Maine. They also insist that the new “energy corridor,” requiring the disruption of wilderness area, is very short by comparison to the existing “corridor” that currently (no pun intended) transmits electricity from Canada through Maine into Massachusetts. The Hydro-Quebec electricity will require its own wires and poles, which will undoubtedly require a significant widening of the existing scar through the Maine woods. But wait! What is the source of electricity transmitted through the existing transmission lines? Would that be a fossil-fuel generating plant in Quebec? CMP would have us believe that the Hydro-Quebec electricity source will allow them to shut down an (unnamed) existing fossil-fuel plant? Really? Or will it just provide much more electricity to the industries located in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, allowing them to create more jobs — and more pollution? It would be nice if CMP, et al., were more open and honest with us Mainers.Richard Crampton, Northport

Construction set to begin on CMP’s controversial transmission corridor

Bangor Daily News An excavation company is starting to plow access roads and stage equipment for construction of an electricity transmission corridor aimed at bringing Canadian hydropower to the New England grid. Much of the 145-mile New England Clean Energy Connect calls for widening existing corridors, but a new swath would be cut through 53 miles of wilderness in western Maine. The clearing of a 54-foot path for power lines is set to begin around Jan. 18, Thorn Dickinson, president and CEO of the New England Clean Energy Connect Transmission, said in an affidavit, which was first reported by the Portland Press Herald. A Wisconsin company has deployed excavators and tree-harvesting equipment for the project. Three conservation groups tried unsuccessfully to obtain an emergency order to stop construction from getting underway. A judge denied the request, but an appeal is pending before the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The groups are moving forward with a lawsuit that contends the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should’ve conducted a more thorough environmental impact statement. The Army Corps gave its approval in November. The project previously received approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Land Use Planning Commission and Maine Public Utilities Commission. - Associated Press    

In the Maine woods, preparations signal imminent start of CMP power line project

Portland Press Herald In court papers Monday, the developer says access road plowing started Monday and construction is expected to begin on or about Jan. 18. BY TUX TURKEL STAFF WRITER Wood-harvesting equipment, excavators and other machines that will be used to clear the corridor for the New England Clean Energy Connect project are arrayed Friday at the so-called Marshall Yard, off Route 201 near West Forks. At the rear, massive stacks of wooden erosion-control mats await transport into the forest. Photo courtesy of Aaron Turkel JOHNSON MOUNTAIN TOWNSHIP — Obscured by a swirling snow squall, an amphibious off-road transporter with 5-foot-high tires maneuvered Friday along the Maine ITS 89 snowmobile trail at the base of Coburn Mountain. At a junction, two workers from Northern Clearing, a Wisconsin-based right-of-way contractor, stepped into the wind and 11-degree cold and secured a sign and pink flagging tape to a small tree. The sign was one of hundreds being erected in remote stretches of northwestern Maine between the Canadian border and The Forks. They will guide crews – likely starting next week – to where they will begin clearing sections of a 53-mile-long corridor through the forest for Central Maine Power’s $1 billion hydroelectric power corridor project, called New England Clean Energy Connect. After three years of dispute and debate, and despite ongoing court challenges and a pending voter referendum, work is finally set to begin to create a 54-foot-wide path for hydroelectricity from Quebec that ultimately will be earmarked for customers in Massachusetts. Continue reading

1.10 Newsletter

Dear Friend, As we near the finish line, I would like to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude to the 420+ volunteers who have, for a second time, donated their time to help us collect signatures to finally give the people of Maine a vote on the unpopular and destructive NECEC corridor.  Continue reading

LTE: CMP trashes Maine volunteers in its deceptive new ad

Daily Bulldog A new ad running on Maine airwaves right now grossly ignores the hundreds of Maine volunteers (myself and my father included) who are gathering signatures to place the ‘clean energy’ corridor on the ballot to allow Maine voters to decide on this contentious project. While money is being spent on both sides, CMP and its parent company, Hydro-Quebec, have spent a record $20 million to flood us with disinformation. They tell us the corridor will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It won’t, and they hired an army of lobbyists to kill Senator Carson’s bill to keep Mainers from finding that out. They tell us it will reduce our electricity bills--but they don’t tell us it would be mere pennies per month while CMP makes $5 million per month and Hydro-Quebec makes $41 million per month. They tell us it will create jobs without telling us these are mostly temporary and that they will also displace forest industry jobs. They brazenly tell us that opponents of slashing through western Maine are against clean energy. Tell that to the Forest Ecology Network, Appalachian Mountain Club, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Sierra Club Maine, who all oppose the corridor. Now they tell us to beware of all those people asking you for your signature. Yes, be afraid of those Mainers who love our state, who love our environment, and who would love for you to decide whether you want this gash through one of the last undeveloped havens in the eastern United States--all for ‘benefits’ that will never be realized. Those Maine volunteers are some scary people, or at least they are to CMP, which doesn’t seem to have any volunteers on its side. CMP knows it’s a bad deal, and they know if the citizens get to decide, they will lose. Garrett MurchMount Vernon

BUSINESS 1st Circuit asked to stop hydropower corridor construction BOSTON — Opponents of a 145-mile electricity transmission corridor aimed at bringing Canadian hydropower to the New England grid are asking a federal appeals court to delay construction set to begin in January. Denied a preliminary injunction by a federal judge last week in Maine, three conservation groups filed the new request late Wednesday [December 30, 2020] with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. Continue reading

1.3 Newsletter

Dear Friends, Happy New Year! As we enter the final days of our signature collection effort, I’d like to take just a moment to remind each and every one of you just what it is that we’re fighting for. Our grassroots effort is built from a diverse and truly non-partisan group of concerned Mainers with different viewpoints and motivations. However, there’s no denying that what we have in western Maine (Segment 1 of the destructive NECEC Corridor) is incredibly special, unique and worth protecting. Continue reading

Our 10 Most-Read Stories of the Year {#8 The CMP Corridor: Maine’s Most Divisive 53 Miles)

Downeast Magazine Read HERE: 8. The CMP Corridor: Maine’s Most Divisive 53 Miles From our November issue: At the heart of the public debate over the proposed power-transmission project known as the New England Clean Energy Connect is a remote swath of woods, mountains, and streams that 53 miles of newly cut corridor would cleave. It’s a rugged stretch of the state that few Mainers have laid eyes on. We sent a team of photographers for an up-close look at the embattled backcountry tract known as Segment 1.