LEWISTON – A proposed 145-mile power transmission line is generating strong opinions on both sides.
A new coalition with some unlikely partners threw their support behind the project on Tuesday.
The group calls itself Mainers for Clean Energy Jobs. Its members include union leaders and a nonunion construction company.
Supporters of the Central Maine Power Co. project said the $1 billion transmission line could generate as many as 3,500 direct and indirect jobs.
“I think that what the contractors are going to have to do is focus on workforce development and working with our youth and getting more people in the industry. And getting them more excited about staying here in Maine, instead of leaving the state,” Tawnya Brown, chairwoman of Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine, said.
Opponents of the project maintain it will irreparably damage a swath of prime fishing, hunting and hiking acreage in Somerset County.
“I mean it’s going through existing corridors for the most part. I don’t believe there’s going to be great impact as some would say,” Tom Nason, business development manager for E.S. Boulos Co., said.
A statement from mainers for Clean Energy Jobs contends that when completed, the transmission line will reduce carbon emissions as if more than 50,000 cars stopped using the state’s highways.
“The reality is that we’re using more power than we ever have and we don’t want to see a disruption in the service,” Somerset Economic Development Executive Director Christian Save said.
The project needs approval from the Public Utilities Commission and the Land Use Regulatory Commission before it can go forward.