AUGUSTA, Maine —
Opponents of a $1 billion power corridor in western Maine have collected more than 100,000 signatures for a referendum drive to defeat it.
The petitions were delivered to the secretary of state’s office Thursday afternoon for what's a second referendum attempt.
Two-thirds of the 140-mile corridor from Quebec to Lewiston would pass through areas where power lines already exist. The rest, closer to the Canadian border, would cut down trees for 50 miles to deliver electricity to the power grid.
"The people of Maine will not be shut down by CMP's lawyers and lobbyists, and Mainers won't stand down until their voices have finally been heard," said Sandi Howard, of No CMP Corridor PAC.
Opponents said Central Maine Power's parent company AVANGRID and electricity provider Hydro-Quebec stand to earn billions of dollars with little benefit for Mainers.
"Do we have the right to determine our own future, or are we relegated to be pawns of foreign corporations?" Republican state Sen. Rick Bennett, of Oxford, said.
CMP's political action committee said the project is good for Maine's economy and will provide an average of 1,600 construction jobs over the next 2.5 years.
"There are people who are up working on this project who were laid off due to the coronavirus that have now gone back to work and are proud to have a job," Clean Energy Matters Executive Director Jon Breed said.
Breed said CMP will also pay $18 million a year in new property taxes, benefitting towns in the counties where the transmission line will be built.
"Those are teachers, those are schools, those are roads being paved, that is real revenue for these communities," Breed said.
The referendum would require the Maine Legislature to approve the project, which has already been approved by public utility regulators, and would prohibit similar projects in the same part of the state in the future.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.