WESTERN MAINE — May 11, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit for the New England Clean Energy Connect, or NECEC. Also known as the CMP Corridor, the project has been a hot topic in the State of Maine and particularly the Western Maine region for over two years.
New England Clean Energy Connect
Thorn Dickinson, the CEO and President of NECEC, spoke with The Irregular about the project. The new development would be a 53-mile stretch of 54-foot wide corridor from the Canadian Border to The Forks area, where it would connect and overlap with existing transmission corridors for the remaining 92 miles of the project. Conditions of the DEP permit included narrowing the width of the new development from the original 150 feet to 54 feet, and maintaining the new development without the use of pesticides, including herbicides. The project is expected to preserve more than 40,000 acres of land, while impacting less than 2,000 acres.
Dickinson shared that studies have shown hydro power to have less emissions than solar, due to the mining process for the materials for solar power and the need for periodic replacement of solar panels. Nuclear power produces no emissions, and hydro power is ranked just above that, comparable to off-shore or on-shore wind.
During the course of the project, the average number of jobs is anticipated to be around 1,600 jobs, with 3,500 possible at the peak of the project. Once the project is completed, a few dozen jobs will be ongoing for maintenance of the lines. As much as possible, NECEC will be giving preference to Maine workers.
Dickinson said that Maine people have a system that protects their natural environment: the Maine Land Use Planning Commission and the DEP are both charged with ensuring that the projects follow the guidelines set up to protect Maine people and the Maine environment.
Say No to NECEC
Sandra Howard with the group Say No to NECEC also spoke with The Irregular. The group was created about two and a half years ago when CMP began quietly approaching towns about the project. The founding members felt that a project of this significance in Maine should have more attention and community involvement. Howard shared that the NECEC project is the largest project in Maine since the Maine Turnpike.
The power that HydroQuebec generates is already being sent to locations in New York and Canada, so it is not true renewable energy, Howard noted. The megadams that HydroQuebec uses create massive flooding, resulting in tree rot and more methane release than a coal plant, Howard said. Additionally, there are concerns about the impact on First Nations people who fish in the areas around the mega dams; methylmercury, a neurotoxin, can enter the water and the fish, poisoning the indigenous people.
Howard said that the damage to the Maine environment would be irreversible. The region where the new development is planned contains significant deer wintering grounds as well as the last stronghold of native brook trout in the country. Additionally, the scenic view and scenic byways would suffer from this scar.
The economic impact would be devastating for Maine’s forestry and biomass industries, as well as for the tourism industry, she added.
Natural Resources Council of Maine
The Natural Resources Council of Maine issued the following statement May 11 from Clean Energy Staff Attorney Sue Ely in response to the DEP permit:
“Today’s DEP permit fails to address the fact that CMP’s proposed transmission corridor would result in no real reduction in global carbon pollution while inflicting enormous harm on Maine’s North Woods and the local communities and Mainers who depend on it for their livelihoods. This project remains a bad deal for Maine. The best path forward for Maine people is to focus on the creation of hundreds of real, local clean energy projects that create thousands of long-lasting jobs here at home, not a destructive transmission corridor with no climate benefits designed primarily to deliver billions in profits to CMP’s shareholders and Hydro-Quebec.”
Moving forward, the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Energy will need to issue permits for the project to progress. Howard said that a lot of people are writing to the Army Corps of Engineers to demand an Environmental Impact Study, which has not been done on this project in the same depth as similar projects in other New England states.
The question on whether or not Maine citizens will approve this project will be on the ballet in November, with wording on the question forthcoming from the Secretary of State.
More information can be found on the following websites:
NECEC website: www.necleanenergyconnect.org/
Say No to NECEC website: www.nocmpcorridor.com/