Dear County and State Leaders,
We are a group of 4,000+ members, including concerned Maine Residents and Taxpayers, from diverse backgrounds who are opposed to CMP’s proposed New England Clean Energy Connect Project. NECEC is a 145-mile transmission line that would installed from Beattie Township on the Canadian Border through the Boundary Mountains, under the Kennebec River gorge, and expand existing corridor south to Lewiston. A new substation would be constructed in Pownal, and upgrades are planned for substations in Sabbatus, Cumberland, and Lewiston. A second line would be expanded from Windsor to Wiscassett. Substation upgrades are also proposed in This line would bring electricity to Massachusetts with negligible benefit to Mainers.
CMP’s strongest argument for local support is the tease of tax revenue but the record shows they historically inflate those estimates. We are also concerned about NECEC’s negative impacts on Maine’s environment, waterways, wildlife, scenic character, and recreational tourism economy. Hydro-Quebec’s power would be diverted from other markets and not reduce global CO2 emissions. Those opposed to this project range from municipalities such as Caratunk, West Forks, Alna, New Sharon, The Forks, Moose River and also include many thousands of residents, organizations, and businesses throughout Maine. The Towns of Jackman, Alna, Caratunk, New Sharon, Wilton have expressed concerns and have filed formal petitions to intervene at the PUC.
We are writing to encourage you, as leaders in your town, to take a stance against this project or at least move to a neutral position of neither for nor against it. The information in this packet is to provide you with data and supporting documentation to help you review the possible merits and many negative impacts of this project for this state and especially to your municipality. To date, there have been over 500 public comments, hundreds of additional testimonies, and evidence entered to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and submitted to the Somerset County Commissioners. We are also enclosing a packet including numerous articles and tax files that provide further insight as to why your town should develop a stance of opposition to NECEC. We hope you, as caretakers of your municipalities, find this information useful and helpful. We encourage you to re-evaluate any submissions or testimony you may have or have heard from Central Maine Power owned by the Spanish Company AVANGRID about possible benefits to towns. We encourage you to not simply accept CMP’s representations as fact – all of the benefits they assert, including the number of jobs, ratepayer benefits, and levels of new taxes, are in dispute at the PUC.
1. Garnett Robinson, owner of Maine Assessment & Appraisal Services, Inc, and Assessors’ Agent for numerous Town’s including Caratunk and West Forks, testified before the PUC and Somerset County Commissioners about CMP’s deceptive permitting practices to state huge valuation estimates during permitting but underreport values in their property value declarations leading to under assessment of their property values, which is at the detriment to other taxpayers in municipalities. As evidence, Mr. Robinson entered copies of CMP’s signed Site/Shoreland permits along with CMP’s corresponding Property Tax Declarations at project close for the Towns of Dixmont, Detroit and Windsor. Please note that CMP permit estimates for Dixmont were $24 million with a declared value at project close in 2015 of $4,256,181.03 (17.7% of estimated value); Detroit CMP permit estimate $28.8 million with declared value at project close in 2015 of $10,436,407.45 (36% of estimated value); and Windsor CMP permit estimate of $138 million versus the declared value at project close in 2015 of $71,455,266.88 (51.7% of estimated value). CMP has a history of overstating tax benefits to towns and they are doing that again with their promises to towns for the NECEC!
2. Garnett Robinson also testified that the municipality of Caratunk was being promised by Central Maine Power Spokesman John Carroll that they would receive about a $100,000 increase in tax payments annually if the project went through. Attached is a copy of a forwarded e-mail correspondence dated September 6, 2018 between Liz Caruso, First Selectman for Caratunk, and Mr. Carroll stating as such as an exhibit. Mr. Robinson also entered an exhibit showing Mr. Carroll as being quoted the next day, September 7th, in a Bangor Daily News article, “Small Maine town rescinds support for big CMP hydro project” with Mr. Carroll stating, “it still could be a few years until Main Revenue Service, CMP and the towns agree upon exactly how the tax benefit of the NECEC project would be distributed.” This led Mr. Robinson to ask how can Mr. Carroll give a town an estimate one day but say it could be years until we know how taxes are distributed the next? His response is inconsistent.
3. CMP’s over-exaggerated benefits do not just pertain to taxes but are also utilized when estimating ratepayer benefits. Even the PUC’s economic consultant, LEI, stated that CMP has grossly overstated the benefits to towns when they estimated $40-45 million/year for 20 years. Another economist, Tanya Bodell, testified that Central Maine Power over estimated the yearly rate payer benefit and calculated that it would be more in the range of $6 million over 20 years, which is the equivalent to about $9.80/year per customer – about 2 cups of coffee! CMP funded a non-profit, Western Mountains and Rivers Corporation, and publicized the $22 million mitigation to cross over the Kennebec gorge. With CMP’s recent bait and switch to drill under the gorge, the mitigation is lowered to be between $5-10 million.
4. Despite spending billions on supposed Reliability Projects at ratepayers’ expense, Central Maine Power is becoming more unreliable as evidenced by power outages becoming more widespread and lasting for longer durations culminating with more customers suffering during the October 2017 storm outages than the ice storm of 1998. Many of your constituents have suffered through CMP’s poor service and imagine how much worse it could be if these lines were installed to help Massachusetts and we have another large outage event. Where will CMP’s resources go in such an event – to help your town or to putting the lights back on in Boston?
5. Central Maine Power is being sued for fraudulent billing and lying to upwards of 100,000 customers. Have you checked your bills for the town to see if CMP is billing your town accurately or whether you should join their class action lawsuit?
6. Maine’s tourism business creates thousands of jobs and brings in millions of dollars of revenue and even a regional hit to tourist businesses, like those in Kennebec River Valley, can be felt statewide hurting revenues in often unthought-of of ways possibly even effecting Revenue Sharing, school distributions and other state subsidy.
In closing, this is a purely for-profit project for CMP/Avangrid that has nothing to do with providing real, long term benefits to Maine. Any and all benefits are nothing more than indirect impacts related to building an infrastructure project that will harm our natural resources – and CMP has been shown to consistently overstate those benefits in the first place. Please contact us with any questions you have about the negative impacts of the New England Clean Energy Connect proposal and its overstated benefits. To view supporting documentation, please go to this link:
For additional information, you can reach us on the “Say NO to 145-mile transmission line through Maine” Facebook group or contact me directly.
Sandra A. Howard, Ph.D.
Administrator, "Say NO to 145-mile transmission line through Maine" on FB