Many Maine tax assessors working in towns have first-hand experience with Central Maine Power’s history of overestimating project valuations during permitting and underreporting values in their property tax declarations at project close. These overstated benefits and underreported property tax values can be evidenced from CMP’s last large system upgrade, the Maine Power Reliability Project. CMP’s signed site/shoreland permits, along with corresponding property tax declarations at project close, reveal that CMP’s permit estimates resulted in only a percentage of promised benefits to the towns of Dixmont (17.7 percent of estimated value), Detroit (36 percent), and Windsor (51.7 percent).

These deceptive practices lead towns to have great revenue expectations during project permitting with ultimate underreporting at the close of project. As a result, many municipalities undervalue property to the detriment of businesses and less fortunate taxpayers like retirees, who are left to make up the difference. For CMP’s proposed 145-mile transmission line (NECEC), the PUC’s hired analysts, London Economics International, calculated CMP’s touted tax benefits to towns along the corridor that were dramatically overstated, which resembles their past practice from MPRP. Are CMP’s permit overestimates and underreported tax values incompetent in nature, or worse, an attempt to evade property taxes?

Maine residents and taxpayers should also consider other economic considerations, such as the effect on Maine’s power producers when massive amounts of power from Canada hit the New England market. How will this impact negotiations for power purchase contracts? What will happen to businesses affected by this project from loss of viewsheds, reduced tourism activity or lower contract rates? Lower incomes would result in reduced market and property tax values.

I urge Maine taxpayers and town officials to be wary of promises made by CMP as they attempt to move forward with NECEC.

Garnett Robinson


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