SKOWHEGAN — A group of people opposed to the 145-mile transmission line proposed by Central Maine Power Co. through parts of rural Somerset County plan to deliver their concerns to county commissioners Wednesday during the board’s regular meeting.

The meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday in the commissioners’ room in the courthouse on High Street.

Sandi Howard, the administrator of the Facebook group “Say NO to 145-mile CMP transmission line through Maine,” said the group hopes to change the minds of the five-member county commission, which in January wrote a letter in support of the project.

In a 4-0 vote on Jan. 4, with District 1 Commissioner Robert Sezak, of Fairfield, abstaining, commissioners said the plan, if accepted as part of the New England Clean Energy Connect project, will be good for the tourism economy and local infrastructure, boost the region’s tax base and reduce energy prices.

Howard, a Maine native and rafting guide who lives in New Hampshire but spends summers in Maine at a family camp in Caratunk, and others say that is nonsense.

“The goal is to state our opposition as Somerset County residents to the commissioners, who have offered a letter supporting NECEC … without asking for consensus,” Howard said by phone Monday.

She said there also is concern that in 2017, the same county commissioners issued a resolution strongly opposing additional wind turbines in the county.

Howard said the same points commissioners cited in opposing the tall wind turbines apply to the transmission line through the communities and commercial forest land in the county. The letter and accompanying resolution — both supported 5-0 — cited the dangers of 500-plus-foot wind turbines and the associated transmission lines they say will forever spoil the “world class beauty” of the region.

Somerset County Administrator Dawn DiBlasi said commissioners will hear an update from CMP spokesman John Carroll, but that she was unaware of the planned visit by the opposition group.

Carroll confirmed in an email Monday that he was invited to give the commissioners an update on the proposed project on Wednesday.

“I suspect some people will come with another opinion, but I don’t know how the commissioners intend to organize the meeting,” he said. “I will give them a review of the purpose and benefits and an update on our permitting. I suspect they will want to spend some time on the question of whether the energy from Quebec is new energy, or simply a diversion from another market. Mostly, I plan to respond to their questions.”

DiBlasi said the format of the meeting will be routine, with Carroll’s update at the top of the agenda in a commissioners’ workshop at 3 p.m. and a public comment session toward the end of the regular meeting.

“I think they see it as jobs in the county,” DiBlasi said Monday of Somerset County commissioners’ vote on the corridor. “I think they see it as broadband up there because if the corridor is there, it will be easier for broadband to get in there and reach people who don’t have it farther up in the county.

“And I think that they feel that it’s coming anyway — some form of power is going to come through — and where we do oppose wind, they thought that this was a cleaner energy to come through from Quebec.”

Central Maine Power Co. submitted a plan in August 2017 to build a 145-mile, high-voltage transmission line through parts of Maine to send hydro-electric power from Quebec to Massachusetts.

Carroll said in January that when the company bought the land for the power corridor, officials looked at conservation and sensitive areas they would have to work around and avoid “to be a good neighbor.” He said woodland owners who sold them the land were on board with what would be done to the land.

“We own all the land for the corridor and substation sites,” Carroll said in January.

The proposed corridor would pass near the Appalachian Trail, where it crosses the Kennebec River at Caratunk.

The power transmission line would start in Beattie Township on the Canadian border north of Route 27 and Coburn Gore. Carroll has said the corridor would be 300 feet wide at first, then expand to around 500 feet in width in places with 100-foot transmission towers. The line would run south of Jackman to Johnson Mountain Township, skirting West Forks to Moxie Gore and The Forks, where the new line would join the existing line from Harris Station at the head of the Kennebec River.

The line also would run near Caratunk and Moscow to the Wyman Lake hydroelectric station, crossing the Kennebec River south of Bingham into Concord Township. From there the line would run through Embden and Anson and into Starks, Industry and New Sharon to Farmington and on south to Lewiston.

Howard said the Facebook group with 3,700 members now is part of a broader coalition of parties opposing the $1 billion transmission line “through pristine Maine wilderness” called Stop the Corridor, which says it would be “as wide as the New Jersey Turnpike, and the towers each as large as the Eastland Hotel in Portland.”

Coalition members include the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Maine Renewable Energy Association and MREA member ReEnergy Biomass Operation, according to a press release from Stop the Corridor dated Thursday.

Stop the Corridor has four primary reasons for their opposition:

• CMP will create a corridor through pristine Maine forest that’s as wide as the New Jersey Turnpike, crossing the Kennebec River Gorge, the Appalachian Trail, 263 wetlands, 115 streams, 12 inland waterfowl and wading bird habitat areas as well as brook trout streams and deer wintering yards.

• The $950 million project to transport energy from huge dams in Quebec to Massachusetts and Maine is just the extension cord.

• CMP’s project includes much less assistance for Maine than similar proposals in New Hampshire and Vermont, which include hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development assistance and environmental mitigation.

• CMP plans to use proceeds from the NECEC corridor to fund assistance for low-income residents of Massachusetts. No similar program for Maine residents has been proposed.

Howard said residents of Caratunk, Jackman, Moose River, Moxie Gore, Skowhegan and Dennistown, as well as private landowners and various road associations in the Unorganized Territories have said they will attend the Wednesday commissioners’ meeting.

The proposed transmission line also would cross 33 miles in Franklin County, where some local leaders say they will enjoy new tax revenue from the project. A group of Franklin County officials had requested millions of dollars’ worth of investment from Central Maine Power Co., including internet expansion, scholarships, tax relief and economic development, as compensation for passage of the power lines.

A planned meeting by the group with CMP officials was canceled in August. Farmington Selectman Scott Landry, spokesman for the group, which includes Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, said in a news release Aug. 30 that he and the other members were “surprised and very disappointed with this latest action.”

“The group has worked tirelessly to bring forth a reasonable and mutually beneficial proposal between Franklin County and CMP,” the release said.

Landry and Saviello did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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