AUGUSTA – A bill in the state legislature could delay the proposed CMP (Central Maine Power) transmission line.
The project has drawn support, but concerned others. Some of those opposed rallied against the proposal Friday at the Maine State House.
“We’re gathering on the Ides of March, the day that Brutus betrayed Julius Caesar,” said Sandi Howard, the director of the “Say NO to NECEC” group.
Those opposed to the power line said they feel betrayed by some government leaders.
The opponents take issue with the proposed 53 mile hydro-electric power line that would carry energy from Quebec to Massachusetts by building through the woods of western Maine.
A bill in the legislature could delay that process, by requiring a greenhouse gas emissions study from the DEP.
“I’m really skeptical that this project has any benefit to Maine people,” said Sen. Brownie Carson, D – Harpswell. “We need to know whether the greenhouse gas impacts are real.”
But project representatives testified they have already done greenhouse gas studies.
They also said the power line would bring more than 3 million metric tons of carbon reduction – the equivalent of taking more than 700,000 cars off the road.
“Our major concern is what we consider the existential risk of climate change, and any delay in this project coming in line is critical,” said Thorn Dickinson, vice president of business development at Avangrid Networks.
Others favoring the CMP transmission line said they are against the bill, because it needlessly delays approval from state agencies.
“This bill circumvents that installation for one project and one project alone,” said Benjamin Dudley, the director of Mainers for Clean Energy Jobs. “That’s a problem.”
Some lawmakers are undecided on the bill for the same reason.
“I think we need to be careful that we don’t add additional standards at the last minute, especially if that information is already available in the file,” said Sen. Robert Foley, R – Wells.
But those against the power line believe it’s not as green of a deal as project leaders say.
“It would be shifted power that Hydro-Quebec is giving to other markets,” said Howard. “In order for it to meet new energy goals, it would have to be new power.”
And they’re calling on Gov. Janet Mills to take another look at her support for a line that would go through an untouched piece of Maine.
“It’s the doorstep to the North Maine Woods,” said Peter Dostie, who runs Hawk’s Nest Lodge in West Forks. “You take a wrecking ball to that, and that’s going to be your legacy.”
Those rallying against the project who support the bill hope it will delay the project. If the bill were to move forward, the DEP would have to submit their findings by June of this year.
Our news team reached out to Governor Mills’s spokesperson for comment, but have yet to hear back.