The following wording is being proposed for the referendum question: “Do you want to adopt a Resolve directing the Maine Public Utilities Commission to reverse its approval of the proposed New England Clean Energy Connect power transmission line?”
The 30-day comment period is strictly for comments regarding whether the chosen wording accurately reflects the referendum’s intent, according to a statement issued Friday by Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap. Comments supporting or opposing the initiative itself will not be accepted, he said.
The transmission line, which would cost roughly $1 billion to build, would carry hydroelectric power generated by dams in Quebec to a substation in Lewiston, where it would be fed into the regional grid and sent to Massachusetts.
CMP contends the project, funded by Massachusetts ratepayers, would benefit Maine and the region by lowering carbon emissions, reducing fossil fuel usage and stabilizing electricity costs. But opponents say the project would create environmental damage and hurt homegrown solar, wind and biomass projects in Maine.
In related news, the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices ruled Friday that Stop the Corridor, a campaign formed to oppose regulatory approval of the project, qualifies as a political action committee and therefore must disclose its financial backers.
The referendum is intended force the PUC to reverse its May 2019 decision that the corridor project is in the interests of the state, thus halting any construction on the project. A referendum forcing an apolitical regulatory group to reverse a prior decision would be unprecedented in Maine.
Comments on the referendum question’s wording can be sent via email to [email protected] with the subject line “Public Comment” or via mail to Secretary of State, Attn: Public Comment, 148 State House Station, Augusta ME 04333-0148.