ORONO – The Central Maine Power (CMP) transmission line became one step closer to being built here in Maine. The state’s Land Use Planning Commission voted to give their approval to the project.
At a meeting in Orono, commissioners voted five to two, giving the project their certification.
The LUPC regulates activities in unorganized parts of the state, including the parts of western Maine where this this project would be built.
Since 2017 commissioners have been reviewing the New England Clean Energy Connect Project.
“We’re very happy…along the way we’ve continued to modify the project, based on our conversation with regulators and people,” said Thorn Dickinson, the vice president of business development for Avangrid.
Those changes include not using pesticides through part of the route.
But for some that’s not enough to calm environmental concerns.
The 145 mile hydroelectric power line would move power from Quebec through Maine to Massachusetts, building through the nearly untouched woods of Maine.
“It is going to be very detrimental to Maine’s brook trout habitat. It’ll be highly visible along the Appalachian Trail which is a wonderful scenic area,” said Sue Ely, a clean energy attorney for Natural Resources Council of Maine.
Supporters of the project have highlighted its clean energy, tax revenue, and the 1,600 jobs Dickinson said it would create. That’s something that’s gotten the attention of labor unions.
“I think a lot of the bad predictions people make don’t come true…power lines do not destroy the environment or affect tourism negatively,” said Tim Burgess, a business representative for IBEW Local 104.
One of the two commissioners who voted against approval noted how Maine and Massachusetts are working on offshore wind turbines.
Residents against the project also mentioned looking toward other clean energy sources.
“I don’t think it’s going to help Maine at all. It’s not really going to create 3,500 jobs in the state of Maine. The jobs are going to be temporary,” said Richard Merrill, a Glenburn resident.
Ultimately this approval from the LUPC is one step in a larger process.
Wednesday’s decision here will be factored in to that of the DEP. The project also needs approval from the Army Corps of Engineers.