AUGUSTA – (WGME) A controversial billion dollar power line project through western Maine is moving forward.
On Thursday, the Maine Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved Central Maine Power’s request for a permit to build a 145-mile transmission corridor.
The transmission corridor would carry hydropower from Canada to Massachusetts through Maine. The corridor would vary in width from 300 feet to 500 feet.
“We’re thrilled with the decision — 18-month process that confirms the substantial environmental and economic benefits this project will bring for Maine and the region,” said Thorn Dickinson of Iberdrola, CMP’s parent company.,
The Natural Resources Council of Maine opposes the project, saying it would destroy Maine’s north woods without guaranteeing environmental benefits.
“We’re very disappointed by the decision,” said NRCM attorney Sue Ely.
“This decision is dramatically overstating the benefits while dramatically undervaluing the negative impacts to the state. The is the PUC siding with CMP’s corporate interests over the best interest of the state of Maine and ratepayers in Maine,” Ely said.
Commissioners acknowledged the project comes with some challenges and may impact scenic views.
“Anytime you have a significant energy infrastructure project there are going to be adverse impacts,” MPUC Chairman Mark Vannoy said.
Supporters, including Vannoy, said the project offers significant benefits – including more than $250 million in incentives to lower electric rates in Maine and to subsidize things like heat pumps and electric vehicles.
“While I agree there are adverse effects I think the benefits outweigh that,” he said.