Maine may become home to a new hydropower corridor

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 11:19 AM EST
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -The New England Clean Energy Corridor is a transmission line planned to run from Quebec to Boston. Hydro Quebec will develop the corridor through their partner, Avangrid, which owns Central Maine power. But there are concerns.

The corridor begins in the Lakes and Mountains region and crosses remote sections of the Kennebec and Moose River valley before linking to an existing corridor. John Banks, director of natural resources for the Penobscot nation, says these areas are one of the last strongholds for the conservation of waning native brook trout populations, and a key to tourism in non-coastal Maine. Tourists come to Maine to ski, hike, and fish, and when they do, they bring money to the local economy.

“To me, that’s the way life should be in a state with such great natural resources,” said Banks.

The Natural Resource’s Council of Maine sued the US Army Corps of Engineers to stop development, claiming an insufficient review of environmental impact was done, and staff scientist Nick Bennet says the court of appeals has granted a stay in construction on one section of the corridor while the case is reviewed.

Recently, the NO CMP Corridor group submitted 100,955 signatures to the Maine Secretary of State. Former State Senator Tom Saviello who submitted the petition expects Secretary Bellows to verify the signatures and approve it by February 22nd, and granted the petition is legitimate, he says Mainers could vote on the issue in November.

The petition requests three key changes to state law. It asks that a 2/3 majority vote in the legislature be required before constructing high-impact electric transmission lines on public lands. It also asks that all high impact electric transmission lines have legislative approval, and for the building of these lines to be prohibited in the Upper Kennebec region.

My ultimate goal in all of this is to give Mainers a chance to vote, do they want this line to go in or don’t they want it to go in,” said Saviello.

Hydro Québec and the NECEC for their part promise the benefits of the corridor. Ted Varipatis, the director of media relations for the clean energy corridor says It will bring one thousand six hundred construction jobs annually to Maine until construction ends and will lower energy costs for Mainers. Lynn St Laurent at Hydro Quebec says despite some doubts voiced by opposition groups, the corridor is creating new clean energy, not removing it from one community to give to Bostonians, and that all the approvals needed to move forward have come from independent panels. Hydro Quebec expects to provide 3 million tons of carbon displacement every year

“In Maine in Quebec the entire region, the entire world, we are faced with urgency to find real pragmatic solutions to fix climate change,” said St Laurent.

This is just the next step in deciding the future of the corridor.

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