Power Lines Up North
ID 2652697 © John Anderson | Dreamstime.com
- May 10, 2019
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One of the continental united state’s last off the grid counties is set to get hooked up, and residents aren’t too happy about it. Central Maine Power plans on building 53 miles of transmission line from Somerset County, Maine to Canada. It’s all part of New England Clean Energy Connect, a $950 initiative put forth by the Massachusetts legislature to meet the region’s increasing energy demands with renewables. However, the plan has sparked outrage throughout the forks region of western Maine, an area that is largely off the grid and pristine.
While the forest dweller’s misgivings are understandable, it seems unlikely that the powers that be will put their preferences over the well-being of New England, and indeed, the entire planet. CMP and proponents of the plan insist that hydro-power from Canada is necessary to hit their carbon-cutting targets. They also point to other benefits the corridor will bring western Maine communities: public snowmobile lanes, property tax revenue, and a $258 million package that would be used, in part, to lower utility costs in the area. CMP has also promised $22 million to offset other undesired effects the lines would have.
Environmental groups are divided over the proposal. The Sierra Club of Maine and the Natural Resources Council of Maine oppose the project, both citing concerns over the effects of possible herbicide use and a skepticism of the supposed carbon cutting benefits. However, other organizations, like the Conservation Law Center and the Acadia Project, have come out in favor for the initiative, arguing that it’s an important step in the right direction.
It will be interesting to see if the lines end up going up in this near pristine part of the country. Assuming it does, how far will Canadian hydro-power push New England towards its carbon neutral goal?