Canadian hydropower is an essential form of clean energy needed to meet carbon emission goals in both Maine and New England. The hydropower would be paid for by Massachusetts but it and all other power sources run through the entire New England grid.

Opponents claim that Hydro Quebec power isn’t clean, but the Union of Concerned Scientists states that “The plan to responsibly import Canadian hydropower will compliment local and regional investments in energy efficiency measures, solar, offshore wind and storage. It will create new construction jobs, cut air pollution and reduce the Northeast’s over reliance on natural gas and other fossil fuels. The power is from existing reservoirs with surplus. Those reservoirs have minimal methane release from rotting vegetation because they’re located in the far north. And in that region the methane is released from 3-10 years at the most.

The MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Research (CEEPR) strongly supports the delivery of Hydro Quebec power to help decarbonize electricity production in New England. CEEPR also suggests that when  variable wind and/or solar power generation in New England exceeds demand, the excess should be sold to Canada, improving regional efficiency and lowering the cost in the New England grid. Selling wind and solar to Hydro Quebec would increase profits for those clean energy companies in Maine, while hydropower would provide the backup “battery” for times when New England demand exceeds its clean energy production.

Opponents overstate the ecological damage of a power line largely through an existing corridor. If you’ve ever seen the land through which the new section of the corridor would be constructed, its heavily logged, not “pristine.” Take a look. The serious risk to Maine’s boreal and northern hardwood forests is climate change. The threat is clearly defined on the University of Maine Climate Change Institute website.

CMP and Hydro are often criticized for earning profits from the project, but clean energy sources should be more profitable and fossil fuel profits must drop dramatically.  Two Texas based natural gas companies, Calpine and Vistra formed a PAC ironically named  “Mainers for Local Power”.  While the PAC is secretive about it’s spending, public records reveal that they funded the process of collecting signatures for the referendum to overturn PUC approval of Clean Energy Connect. The natural gas industry produces 49 percent of New England’s electricity and they are threatened by clean energy. According to a former Maine State Economist, fossil fuel power plants across New England stand to lose $10 billion in just the first 10 years after the completion of the Clean Energy Corridor. Natural gas is sourced from fracking, which causes the release of methane and creates water pollution. Natural gas is shipped to New England through methane leaky pipelines, then burned, creating CO2.  Is that a cleaner form of energy than Canadian hydropower?

Instead of meeting the 7 percent annual reduction in fossil fuel usage needed to reach the critical 2030 30% fossil fuel reduction goal, our nation’s fossil fuel use rose 4% in 2018. Global methane emissions reached a record high in 2019.

To reduce carbon emissions, we need to electrify heating and transportation which requires all available forms of clean energy including Canadian hydropower. We must all focus on what actions the science tells us are urgently required to protect our children and grandchildren.

— Special to the Press Herald

 

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