WOOLWICH – The Woolwich Select Board is considering withdrawing its support for Central Maine Power’s proposed 145-mile transmission line that would send hydropower from Canada to Massachusetts after residents urged the switch during a meeting Monday.

The Woolwich Select Board agreed to consider rescinding its letter of support for CMP’s proposed 145-mile transmission line that would travel from Quebec to Lewiston sending hydropower from Canada to Massachusetts. Hannah LaClaire/The Times Record

The board is expected to vote Sept. 3 to decide whether to rescind a letter of support it wrote in 2017. If Woolwich revokes its support, it would be the ninth municipality to do so. Twelve towns have voted to oppose the project outright.

“I was a reluctant supporter in 2017 and I’ve come to oppose it as we’ve learned more about it,” said Woolwich Selectman Allison Hepler. “We wrote the letter based on the little information we had at the time, but I’m ready to revisit it.”

The Woolwich board wrote the letter of support for the project in 2017, as CMP needs support from every town the transmission line passes through before the project can begin.

Woolwich Select Board Chairman David King Sr. said only one mile of the transmission line crosses through Woolwich, so the project, “has very little effect on Woolwich.”

“At the time there was no opposition to the project, but now that people are voicing their concerns, we’re reconsidering,” said David King Sr., chairman of the board.

“I understand the line isn’t necessarily in Woolwich, but we need to look at this project as a whole,” said Dani Friend of Woolwich, who previously worked for CMP, and was among those calling Woolwich selectmen to revoke their support. “The project will not benefit Maine, it will do detrimental harm. There’s a 53-mile stretch of this state that will be cut into in that is untouched, beautiful and pristine.”

The project would lead to the installation of 145 miles of transmission line across western Maine. Ninety-two of those miles already have the infrastructure in place, meaning wires would be added to existing towers, but the remaining 53 miles are not untouched, according to Thorne Dickenson, project manager for the proposed transmission line.

“This is an area that has been logged and harvested on a regular basis. We located the project carefully in an area that is already impacted,” he said.

Dickenson said while the project was not created to supply Maine with power, it offers other benefits to Mainers, including 1,600 new jobs and $40 million per year in lower energy bills. From an environmental standpoint, CMP has agreed to place transmission lines under the Kennebec River as well after facing opposition from environmentalists concerned the project would disturb brook trout habitats.

In February Gov. Janet Mills backed a deal that states CMP would give $258 million to Mainers over 40 years to help lower electric bills in exchange for a permit to build the transmission line.

Friend is helping to circulate for a November referendum opposing the project in Woolwich, in case the Select Board doesn’t rescind its support. The petition needs 130 signatures for a question to appear on the ballot. So far, about 50 signatures have been collected.

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