AUGUSTA — The Maine House voted Thursday to uphold Gov. Janet Mills’ vetoes of two bills sought by opponents of Central Maine Power’s controversial transmission line proposal.
One bill, L.D. 1383, would have required electric utilities to obtain approval from local governments before using eminent domain to take private land for transmission line projects. Supporters failed to garner the two-thirds majority needed to overturn Mills’ veto in the House on a 79-64 vote.
The second measure, L.D. 1363, would require an electric utility to receive approval from two-thirds of the municipalities through which a transmission line project passes. The veto override vote failed 75-68 Thursday.
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Mills Vetoes Bills That Target CMP Transmission Project
Gov. Janet Mills Wednesday vetoed two bills aimed at establishing more stringent standards for the approval of electric transmission lines.
The bills passed the Legislature by large majorities. Rep. Seth Berry, of Bowdoinham, says the governor should not have vetoed them.
“It does not come as a surprise, but it is a mistake," Berry says. "This is a new kind of project, it’s a new ball game, if you will, that is being played, and we need rules that are commensurate with that ball game.”
Gov. Mills says the two bills, one that would give municipal officials say over use of eminent domain for power lines and another giving affected towns veto power on siting, grant too much control to a single community on a project serving many cities and towns.
Gov. Janet Mills, who has supported the project, says it would be ‘poor public policy’ to give local governments the ability to block the project.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday vetoed two bills aimed at creating obstacles for Central Maine Power’s proposed 145-mile transmission project in western Maine.
Mills called the proposals to give local governments the ability to block the project “poor public policy.” She said Wednesday that the bills would give towns disproportionate power over a project with statewide benefits and would discourage private investment by upsetting established regulatory and permitting procedures.
The $1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect aims to bring Canadian hydropower to the New England power grid to help Massachusetts meet its clean energy goals. Massachusetts will fund the project.
Sandi Howard, director of Say NO to NECEC, accused the governor of siding with “foreign corporations” over “the will of Maine people.”
“As town, county, and state representatives learned more about the CMP corridor, they realized what a bad deal it is for Maine and rescinded support. Unfortunately, Governor Mills sided with foreign corporations that will make a huge profit,” she said.
Supporters say the project will reduce carbon pollution and lower energy prices in Maine.
The project calls for building a high-voltage power line from Beattie Township, Maine, on the Canadian border to the regional power grid in Lewiston, Maine.