Central Maine Power Co.’s controversial $1 billion plan to bring Quebec hydropower to Lewiston through a 145-mile transmission line has jolted the 2nd District congressional race.

Accused by Republican foes of surreptitiously backing the New England Clean Energy Connect project, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat, insisted, “I’m not sold on the CMP corridor.”

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District Photo by Eric Connolly

The first-term lawmaker from Lewiston said he has “serious concerns about it,” but also thinks “it would be irresponsible to rush to judgment before we have all  the information.”

All three of his GOP challengers — Adrienne Bennett of Bangor, Dale Crafts of Lisbon and Eric Brakey of Auburn — are opposed to the power company’s proposal to create a new transmission line through western Maine.

Golden said for now, he intends “to work productively to get answers for Mainers, to amplify their voices and to ensure the process is fair and transparent.”

Golden and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, pushed the Army Corps of Engineers last week to hold a public hearing in Lewiston about the project. The Corps is weighing whether to issue a necessary permit for the project.


“I’ve been fighting to bring the people of Maine transparency and to ensure that their concerns are part of this process for months now, and that’s exactly why” the hearing took place, Golden said.

Last weekend, Golden signed a petition that would allow Maine voters to register their support or opposition to the project at the polls in November.

Bennett said Golden’s call for a project labor agreement to ensure Mainers are hired if the project moves forward “signaled his support” for the plan. She called it “a sad day to see a congressman sell out like this” to help his labor allies.

But Golden said he merely wants to protect possible jobs for Mainers if CMP wins approval for the project.

“Carpenters, electricians, teachers, nurses and firefighters are not union bosses,” he said. “They are hardworking Mainers.”

The project aims to deliver electricity generated by dams in Quebec to a new substation in Lewiston that would convert the power and let it flow into the New England power grid as part of a Massachusetts effort to increase its use of renewable energy that doesn’t contribute to rising greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere.

New York City is also eyeing Quebec hydropower as part of its goal of using greener sources of electricity, though it would use a different transmission route.

Republicans will hold a primary in June to select their standard bearer to face Golden in the general election in November 2020.

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