As residents in Somerset County learn about Central Maine Power’s proposed transmission line there is an increasing level of concern and opposition. Residents petitioned local leaders to hold town votes on the issue resulting in overwhelming opposition to the New England Clean Energy Connect in West Forks, The Forks, Moose River, Dennistown and Jackman. The Caratunk Select Board rescinded support and is an active intervenor at the three approval agencies.

Last spring, CMP quietly courted towns to entice support with a promise of a tax benefit, which was proven at the Public Utilities Commission by independent economic consultants as a gross overestimate. Now, as towns and organizations learn more about the project’s negative impacts to Maine’s pristine western mountains, native brook trout-spawning streams, deer-wintering yards, and scenic character, there is cause for alarm on how these impacts would weaken the recreational tourism economy, resulting in permanent job loss in Somerset County.

CMP documents made public at the PUC revealed “there is also the issue of facilitating additional wind energy in western Maine.” This confession along with CMP’s Maine Clean Power Connect wind proposal, a second plan sent to Massachusetts for consideration, confirms that a wind corridor is fully sited along much of the NECEC upper corridor and CMP has the technology to run the tandem line.

Approval of NECEC would be the start of large-scale infrastructure development in western Maine. The Somerset County commissioners are among those who previously believed CMP’s claims that NECEC would stop onshore wind development. In 2017, the commissioners produced an anti-wind statement to ward off development in the county. Now we know NECEC will lead to wind development in Somerset County, residents should share their concerns with the commissioners before they revote on NECEC at their Dec. 19 meeting.

Sandra Howard


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