Natural Gas Companies Form PAC To Fight CMP’s Proposed Transmission Project

Two national companies that operate natural gas plants in Maine are stepping into the fight over Central Maine Power’s power line proposal for western Maine. They’ve created a new political action committee supporting a potential ballot item aimed at killing the CMP project.

The new PAC is called Mainers for Local Power, and it will be funded by two Texas-based companies, Calpine and Vistra. Calpine owns a natural gas electricity generation plant in Westbrook, and Vistra owns one in Veazie.

“We’re concerned about the long-term viability of our operations in Maine,” says Jonathan Flumerfelt, a spokesman for Calpine.

Flumerfelt acknowledges that the injection of electricity from Hydro-Quebec’s dam system into this region via the CMP transmission line would suppress electricity prices enough to hurt the company’s bottom line.

He says the PAC’s goal will be to get out the message that the natural gas plants are significant contributors to Maine’s economy, starting with 22 full-time jobs Calpine’s Westbrook plant.

“They’re very professional, highly-skilled jobs. Many of our employees are Maine Maritime graduates. I think between payroll and local property taxes we contribute about $5 million a year into the Westbrook local economy. We also contribute about $10 million per year to the local economy in spending on various goods and services and even more if we have a big maintenance year,” he says.

Vistra representatives could not immediately be reached for comment, but Flumerfelt says that company’s Veazie plant is similar in scope to the Calpine operation.

The new PAC’s entry comes as the CMP project’s supporters and opponents gear up for a potential statewide ballot fight, if opponents are able to gather enough signatures to get the question on the Nov. 2020 ballot.

Last week, Hydro-Quebec formed a PAC to defend the project in Maine, and last month a group called Clean Energy Matters was formed by CMP’s parent company Avangrid.

“It’s been clear to us that the fossil fuel companies want to see the renewable energy transmission line fail because they will lose millions and millions of dollars. And now there’s proof,” says Clean Energy Matters spokesperson Jon Breed. “Their goal is to spread misinformation about the project and confuse Mainers, and we’re going to work to correct that record at every turn to make sure the people of Maine know the truth about the project and the benefits to our state.”

Project supporters, including Gov. Janet Mills, have criticized earlier advertising campaigns against the power line from a group called Stop the Corridor, which has never revealed its funding sources. Mills and others have contended that powerful — and polluting — fossil-fuel energy companies were behind that effort.

Flumerfelt says Calpine and Vistra intend to be transparent about their funding and interests. And Sandi Howard, who leads a grassroots opposition group informally known as No CMP Corridor, says she’ll take any help she can get, even from large energy companies.

“We’ve been focusing so much with partnerships with NRCM, Patagonia corporate has put money in to help defeat the corridor, we’ve been working with Environment Maine. But it’s no secret that the there are other utilities who oppose the corridor for their own reasons. Even though I may not have the same background, we’re all stronger together for a common goal, and we may not align on the next issue,” she says.

Howard’s group is trying to secure some 80,000 petition signatures by the end of the year, for the ballot item that would order state regulators to kill the power line project. The new PAC has yet to file financial disclosures that could indicate whether it will join that petition drive or focus on other campaign strategies.


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Comment by Dan McKay on December 19, 2019 at 10:48am

What a dilemma for the enviro, electricity hating, freaks 


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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