A bipartisan group of influential Maine lawmakers is telling Massachusetts regulators to reject Central Maine Power's (CMP) proposal to build a big transmission line through western Maine.
The 145-mile high voltage line would bring electricity from Hydro-Québec's dam system in Canada down to Massachusetts consumers. Now, the bipartisan, bicameral chairs of the Legislature's Energy and Natural Resources committee is telling the Bay State's utility regulators to keep Maine out of it.
Republican state Senator David Woodsome of Waterboro, Chair of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, says that he has always felt that historically CMP has been a good corporate citizen.
However, “CMP is no longer the CMP as we know it. It’s a new international corporation and the bottom line is the dollar,” Woodsome says.
Woodsome says in its negotiations with stakeholders, the company has offered some specific deals to address some of the impacts of the project.
“But they're not really concerned about the greater good of the Maine people over all, in other words, the whole state of Maine,” he says. “And that is my issue. That I think this proposal that they are putting out there warrants them to come to the table and offer the Maine people more than what they're doing.”
Woodsome and four other committee chairs have sent a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities citing additional concerns: that the project may increase total greenhouse gas emissions, could result in lost tax revenue and energy investments in Maine, and could have negative impacts on wildlife, forests and clean water.
But Senator Andre Cushing, one of Woodsome's Republican colleagues on the energy committee, says that the lawmakers are speaking out of turn. He broadly disagrees with project opponents, including on the question of effects on the state's environment.
"The bulk of this line from Lewiston to the forks is along an existing right of way that already carries capacity, because Maine has had a long tradition of generation from hydro-facilities,” Cushing says.
CMP's proposed $950 million project is still under negotiation with Massachusetts officials, and, after that, it will need to win multiple permits in both states, as well as from the federal government.