August 16, 2018

Maine environmental group opposes Mass. energy transmission project

An environmental nonprofit from Maine was expected to oppose contracts between Massachusetts utility companies and Central Maine Power related to the 140-mile New England Clean Energy Connect transmission project at a hearing Wednesday.

The Natural Resources Council of Maine says the NECEC project, which would feed the regional power grid including Massachusetts with hydro power from Canada, would disrupt Maine's environment, suppress clean energy development in Maine and possibly increase greenhouse gas emissions.

"Simply put, this proposal is a bad for the people of Maine and Massachusetts, our economies, and our environment," NRCM staff attorney Susan Ely wrote in testimony she planned to deliver at a Department of Public Utilities hearing Wednesday.

Ely also planned to deliver to the DPU a petition signed by more than 2,600 people opposing the NECEC project, the organization said.

AVANGRID Inc. and its subsidiary Central Maine Power Company have said its $950 million NECEC project will provide an above-ground link between the electrical grids in Quebec and New England and that they have "strong support" from government and business officials in Maine.

NRCM said the project will require 53 miles of new transmission corridor and development within 92 miles of existing transmission corridor. "All told, CMP's proposed line would result in above-ground crossings of the Kennebec Gorge, Appalachian Trail, 263 wetlands, 115 streams, and 12 inland waterfowl and wading bird habitat areas," the group said.

After dropping the state's first choice of a transmission project to deliver hydropower from Quebec to Massachusetts — the Northern Pass project through New Hampshire — due to regulatory opposition in New Hampshire, utility executives decided to negotiate long-term contracts with CMP and the NECEC project under a 2016 energy law.

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