hursday, May 31, 2018 7:19 AM
Gov. Paul LePage and Central Maine Power are battling it out with environmental groups, local power generators and a bipartisan group of legislators over a proposed $950 million electrical transmission line from Lewiston to Quebec. The 146-mile New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), which is a joint effort of CMP and Hydro-Québec, would bring 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydro power to Massachusetts through the existing regional grid to comply with the Bay State’s renewable energy goals.
CMP argues that the high-voltage line, which will be paid for by Massachusetts, will create jobs, provide tax revenue to rural communities along the route and replace millions of metric tons of carbon-emitting power.
However, Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Franklin Cty.) and Rep. Ralph Tucker (D-Brunswick), the chairs of the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee, and Sen. David Woodsome (R-York Cty.) and Rep. Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham), the chairs of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, expressed strong opposition to the proposal in a May 4 letter to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.
“We oppose the project because we see no clear economic or climate benefit to Maine people,” wrote the four legislative leaders. “Specifically, we are concerned that NECEC: 1: Will not reduce and may actually increase total greenhouse emissions, 2. May result in lost jobs, tax revenue, and energy investment in Maine, and 3. Does not offer meaningful financial benefits to the people of Maine.”
Gov. LePage, a staunch NECEC proponent, was enraged by their letter. In a letter of his own, dated May 22, to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, the governor complained that the legislators “may have left recipients with the impression that these individuals acted with some legislative authority,” but that neither the Maine House nor Senate “directed or even condoned this letter, nor did the committees on which these individuals serve.”
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