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Public to Weigh in on CMP Transmission Line

The proposed transmission line would cross 263 wetlands, 115 streams and 12 waterfowl habitat areas. (digihanger/pixabay)
The proposed transmission line would cross 263 wetlands, 115 streams and 12 waterfowl habitat areas. (digihanger/pixabay)
October 16, 2018

AUGUSTA, Maine — On Wednesday, the public will have a chance to speak out about a proposed power transmission line that would run through Maine to carry power from Canada to Massachusetts.

The Public Utilities Commission is holding a public hearing on Central Maine Power's proposal to build the 145-mile transmission line. But critics say the project would have significant negative impacts on Maine's environment while providing virtually no benefit to the state.

According to Dylan Voorhees, climate and clean-energy director with the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the transmission line would pose a threat to the state's tourism industry and to wildlife, especially in norther areas of the state.

"This project includes more than 50 miles of brand new transmission corridor crossing literally hundreds of bodies of water and fragmenting habitat for wildlife,” Voorhees said.

Proponents of the project say it would help reduce climate change by making hydroelectric power, a renewable resource, available to the Massachusetts power grid.

But Voorhees argued the transmission line would simply be diverting power that's already being generated from one market to another. He said to reduce carbon emissions, the project would need to build new renewable energy generation sites.

"They might be wind, solar, they might even be hydro,” Voorhees said. “That generation needs to be constructed in order to actually reduce the amount of carbon pollution going into the atmosphere."

The Public Utilities Commission is expected to decide by the end of the year whether or not it will approve the transmission line, but that's not the end of the process.

Voorhees pointed out that at least two other state agencies, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Land Use Planning Commission, also have to approve the project.

"Those processes have really hardly begun, and they won't likely have public hearings until into 2019,” he said. “So, there's still quite a lot more process and opportunity for the public to weigh in."

Earlier this year, a similar proposal to build a transmission line from Quebec to Massachusetts was rejected by state regulators in New Hampshire.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - ME