Documents reveal NextEra’s hidden efforts to oppose NECEC transmission line corridor

November 29, 2023

The documents released by the Maine ethics commission detail the energy company's funding of the Stop the Corridor group and how a Virginia consultant working for NextEra funneled money to the Maine Democratic Party.



NextEra Energy concealed its identity as a large donor to Democrats in the days before the 2018 election and funded a group that should have registered as a political action committee in 2019 when it worked to oppose the construction of a transmission line project through western Maine, according to documents released by the Maine ethics commission Wednesday.

The Florida-based company owns the Seabrook nuclear plant and aggressively tried to stop the New England Clean Energy Connect corridor, which would have introduced new competition to the energy market. But the extent of its role was not known until Wednesday.

The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Elections Practices unanimously approved consent agreements with the Stop the Corridor group and Alpine Initiatives LLC Wednesday, settling years-long investigations into campaign spending by the two groups and levying some of the largest fines ever imposed by the commission.

The agreements say both groups should have registered as political action or ballot question committees. Stop the Corridor agreed to a $50,000 fine for not registering as a ballot question committee and failing to file three campaign finance reports.

Alpine Initiatives agreed to a $160,000 fine for failing to register as a political action committee and for not filing a campaign finance report.

Alpine Initiatives had been under investigation for a $150,000 donation it made to the Democratic Party just before the 2018 election that was called into question because of a lack of public evidence that the company conducted any other business and a suspicion that it was created to hide the identity of the actual donor. The donation was made just four days after the company was formed in 2018, and the company dissolved just 14 months later.

According to the consent agreement signed Wednesday, the Hawthorn Group LC, a Virginia consulting firm that was working for NextEra, helped set up the company and transferred $160,000 into its account the day before Alpine Initiatives donated to the Democratic Party...............................

....................According to the consent agreement with Stop the Corridor, NextEra paid $95,726 to the anti-corridor group between August 2019 and the end of March 2020. That money was spent with Bernstein Shur on political consulting and on the group No CMP Corridor.

From 2018 to 2020, Stop the Corridor worked with a coalition of volunteers and groups opposed to the NECEC, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Sierra Club and No CMP Corridor.

Many of its activities were not subject to campaign finance law, but the consultants working for the group also paid field workers to train volunteers on the technicalities of signature gathering for petitions as opponents worked to get a statewide referendum on the ballot in an attempt to stop the project.

Stop the Corridor covered some of the costs associated with petitioning efforts such as travel, a website for volunteers to sign up to petition and printing. Those activities were reported by the No CMP Corridor PAC as in-kind contributions in their campaign finance reports.

“This reporting indicated that Stop the Corridor had engaged in paid activities to assist with petitioning, but it did not disclose any information about the sources that paid for Stop the Corridor’s assistance,” the agreement signed Wednesday said.


Paul McDonald, a Bernstein Shur attorney representing Clean Energy for ME, the company behind Stop the Corridor, and NextEra, spoke at length at Wednesday’s meeting about NextEra’s desire to not be publicly identified during its work with Stop the Corridor or in the consent agreements..................

.........NextEra was at risk of losing tens of millions of dollars a year if a new source of lower-cost Canadian hydropower came into New England. Supporters of the 2021 ballot question to block the project spent roughly $24 million and NextEra was the primary donor, pitching in $20 million.

NextEra also was accused of moving too slowly to upgrade a key circuit breaker at Seabrook that was needed to increase capacity in the grid and allow for the corridor to bring in the Canadian hydropower. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ultimately ruled that NextEra had to move forward with the upgrade.

Mainers will pay $30 less per month on average for electricity in 2024
The standard-offer rate for Central Maine Power customers will decrease by 35%; Versant Power customers will see a 24% drop. The decreases are the result of a big drop in natural gas prices.

In an economy dominated by inflation, Maine’s electricity customers got welcome news Wednesday as state regulators approved sharply lower rates for next year – about $30 per month on average – that reflect falling natural gas prices.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission approved a 2024 standard offer rate – the default supply for nine of 10 home and small-business customers who don’t contract for electricity with competitive energy providers – of 10.84 cents a kilowatt-hour for Central Maine Power customers. That’s down 35% from current rates.

An average Maine home using 550 kilowatt-hours a month would pay $59.57 for its energy supply under the new rate, down from $91.30.

For Versant Power’s residential customers, the PUC approved a 2024 rate of 11.29 cents, which is 24% less than current prices. The PUC already had approved on Tuesday a 2024 residential rate of 10.76 cents a kilowatt hour for Versant Pow’s Bangor Hydro District, a 30% drop.

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Comment by Long Islander on December 11, 2023 at 6:22pm

Stephen, many of the no-NECEC zealots are firmly behind the Aroostook corridor. They claim that the reason is that it carries wonderful wind power. Of course the big reason they advocate for wind power is that they are paid/told to do so. As corrupt as it gets.

Comment by Stephen Littlefield on December 11, 2023 at 5:18pm

So, all the "righteous" no corridor people, many being told that they were being played, were in fact being played like a bunch of dum-asses!! Millions paid out and the fines were a joke compared to what was spent trying to buy an election question. Wonder why these zealots are so quiet on this new corridor through the center of the state, is it there's no big money behind the resistance?

Comment by Thinklike A. Mountain on December 2, 2023 at 12:04am

It’s time to legally and lawfully take over the system and begin Nuremberg 2.0 if there’s any hope of saving America and possibly even humanity.


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

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