Part of Grid Network »

The Grid Professionals Group covers electric current from its transmission step down to each customer's home. 

423 Members

Post

Power Lines Up North

ID 2652697 © John Anderson | Dreamstime.com

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?

Henry Craver's picture

Thank Henry for the Post!

Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 12, 2019

Henry, no - environmental groups are not divided over the proposal. The "Acadia Center", a front group for PR firm Diverse Communications, has come out for stringing transmission across Maine likely because clients of the company are paying Diverse to promote it.

It's Canadian gas interests who are attempting to put their preferences over the well-being of New England and the entire planet. Sierra Club, to its credit, is realizing what's at stake.

Follow the money.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 12, 2019

Thanks for sharing Henry. I have a few questions on this part:

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.

First, where exactly is the herbicide coming into play? How does that relate to the project?

Second, what is the step 'in the right direction' here? Just that the transmission lines are the only way to connect to Canadian hydropower? There aren't alternative renewable options elsewhere or at least an alternative location for the transmission structures?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 18, 2019

Matt, a path is chopped through forested areas to build transmission so branches won't touch the lines and start fires. Then, herbicide is sprayed on a regular basis to prevent new vegetation from taking root. With limited sunlight and wind, the most cost-effective, carbon-free solution would be to recommission Maine Yankee, shut down in 1996 to help anxious Maine residents sleep better after Chernobyl. Now, they're worried about herbicide...maybe Xanax is the answer.

New York is laying cable on the bottom of the Hudson River to bring Canadian hydropower to NYC, because Wall Street investors can afford to pay the expensive land-use costs of renewables. It's just everyone else in the world - the people who have to chop down forests and live in the shadows of wind turbines - who seem to have a problem with them.

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »