JACKMAN — The town of Jackman has joined a number of towns and organizations throughout the state in opposing Central Maine Power Co.’s proposed transmission line that would bring hydropower from Quebec to Massachusetts via western Maine.

Residents voted 78-11 against the project Wednesday night in a special town meeting held at the Forest Hills Consolidated School gymnasium.

The move comes as state agencies prepare to vote on whether to issue permits for the project, a process that was supposed to be underway by now but has been delayed multiple times after CMP submitted incomplete applications or failed to provide information in a timely manner. The transmission line, called New England Clean Energy Connect, would provide 1,200 megawatts to power roughly 1 million homes in Massachusetts. While its $950 million budget would be funded by Massachusetts electricity customers, the 145-mile-long infrastructure — plus updates to an existing 50-mile line — would run through 38 communities in Somerset, Franklin and Androscoggin counties. CMP owns the land where the new line would be installed.

Jackman borders two of the communities on the corridor, Bradstreet Township and Parlin Pond Township, but the proposed power line would not pass directly through the town.

Voters in Jackman said they thought the project would “damage Maine’s environment, wildlife habitat, water quality, scenic views, and tourism economy; and permanently harm their way of life,” according to a news release from the Natural Resources Council of Maine, a conservation group that has taken a prominent stance against the project.

Jackman Town Manager Victoria Forkus declined to comment immediately on stances taken at the town meeting or to provide a list of voters in attendance. She said the Jackman Select Board will issue a news release on the topic on or before Dec. 13 after voting on its wording.


As of May, CMP had received letters of support that it solicited from 37 communities that the power line passes through. Since then, Alna and Caratunk have rescinded their letters of support. New Sharon did not sign a letter in the first place. West Forks Plantation and The Forks Plantation voted to oppose the project.

“More and more towns are retracting their support and voicing opposition to the transmission line,” said Sue Ely, a clean energy attorney for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, in a news release. “As each new town, business or political leader announces their opposition, it becomes clearer that Maine does not want this project.”

John Carroll, a spokesman for CMP’s parent company Avangrid, said the mounting resistance from towns in or near the corridor is not a pressing concern for the organization at this point.

“Our focus is with the (state agencies),” he said. “We need to address their concerns, so that’s where our focus is right now.”

Carroll attended the special town meeting in Jackman on Wednesday and said that people expressed concern that the project would “somehow hurt some of their businesses.”

“We hope the public understands the benefits that this project brings to Maine,” Carroll said. “There will always be people who reject change, but in the long run, we believe that this is the right thing for Maine and New England and we will continue to work with the communities.”


Those in favor of the project, including a group of business and labor leaders called Mainers for Clean Energy Jobs, cited potential for job creation and tax revenue as perks. The project is expected to generate an annual $18 million for Maine communities through property taxes, according to CMP. The company also has stated that its transmission line would create roughly 1,700 temporary construction jobs, most of which would go to Mainers.

Some people opposed to the plan noted that proposals for routing the line through Vermont and New Hampshire offered better benefits to those states. Those proposals included upward of $200 million in mitigation to offset the disruptions the power line would have caused those states.

John Carroll, NECEC project manager, addressed this point in May.

“The difference in cost is entirely based on how thoughtful the three projects were,” he said. “Our project was carefully cited to maximize the existing infrastructure and minimize community impact. That’s reflected in the cost.”

The project has received pushback over its anticipated effects on the environment and potential to mar the natural beauty that powers much of Maine’s tourism industry. The location where the line would cross the Kennebec River Gorge became a particular point of contention. Initially, CMP planned to build the wires 200 feet above the stretch of water, popular for whitewater rafting. In October, the company conceded to critics by agreeing to drill under the river instead and bury that portion of the line. This would increase the project budget by $37 million — and reduce mitigation funds CMP offered to Somerset County by upward of $12 million. It had formerly offered the county $22 million for conservation projects and economic development.

At a rally in Augusta in September, protesters voiced concern over what the project actually would contribute to Mainers and whether the project would thwart the state’s ability to develop renewable energy. According to a letter from the Caratunk Select Board, one of the town’s concerns was that the CMP line already has prevented the town from being able to build a solar farm that would bring in more tax revenue.


“Caratunk has already twice supported NextEra for a solar farm within its boundaries,” the letter states. “One such solar project lost in direct competition to this NECEC. … Caratunk is against the NECEC project if it prevents future renewable energy opportunities that provide for a huge tax benefit to all landowners and significantly increase the Caratunk valuation.”

The plan needs approval from Maine’s Public Utilities Commission, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Land Use Planning Commission, all of which will make decisions in the coming months about whether it can go forward.

Meg Robbins — 861-9239



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