Such an avalanche of deliberately generated misinformation has been produced in the debate over the proposed Central Maine Power transmission line, it’s hard to know where to start shoveling. As a sixth-generation Somerset County farmer, I am going to shovel for a few paragraphs.

My focus today is on the proposed route. A recent letter attacked the CMP routing plan with an ill-founded understanding of the situation (“CMP’s outrageous right of way request”, letter, March 19). Competing Vermont and New Hampshire options involved extensive sections through publicly owned resources such as Lake Champlain and the White Mountain National Forest. Lines in the areas were to go underground. Costs of going underground are about 10 times more that going above ground.

Almost two-thirds of the proposed line follows an already existing CMP corridor that goes to Lewiston, where a station will be built to convert the power from DC to AC before it is injected into the New England grid. The new hydropower will save Maine ratepayers approximately $40 million dollars. Host corridor towns will enjoy growth in tax base, good construction jobs will appear in the region, and broadband will be extended.

The recent $250 million dollar agreement among many stakeholders, including Gov. Janet Mills, provides additional benefits to western Maine and the state as a whole. Hydro-Quebec provided some money to make the agreement possible. CMP has a fixed price contract with Massachusetts and any overruns will impact stockholders, not ratepayers.

The 52 miles of new corridor is through working commercial forest that is already dissected by routes 27 and 201 and the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic railroad. These may represent a greater environmental impact than a vegetated corridor.

Mainers will benefit while the big loser will be the fossil fuel interests . It doesn’t take long to figure out that much of the opposition is funded by big oil and gas. Those TV ads and mailbox fliers are slick.

 

Paul B. Frederic is a selectman in the town of Starks and a former director of the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission.


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