I have spent the past week listening to the DEP hearings on CMP's proposed transmission line (NECEC project). Sadly, many of the organizations that oppose the project and have "educated" us - the general public - on the "bad" things about the project will eventually support it - IF they get more compensation.
From their perspective it really isn't about a bad proposal, it's about getting more compensation.
Some opponents will never be for it but many are just looking for a bigger hand out.
In the meantime, they have "educated" us about how bad this proposal is but down deep they really don't believe it. They just want more.
Hearing the testimony, which included many facts, many half truths and many statements that were just plain false - it is very difficult to sort out what the real truth is.
From my perspective the following points are indisputably true:
1) The 670 megawatt Pilgrim Nuclear plant will cease operation permanently on June 1st, 2019 after operating for over 50 years.
2) Initially, fossil fuel will take its place as ISO-NE (Independent System Operator of New England) dispatchable baseload source.
3) Many older coal, oil, & nuclear generating facilities will be permanently retired in the future.
4) The carbon emission from fossil fuel generation contributes to greenhouse gases.
5) Green house gases are one of the major causes of climate change.
6) Established hydro generation facilities have practically no carbon emissions.
7) Electrical usage will increase in the future as more homes are built, as more electric cars and heat pump technology is promoted.
8) Wind and solar are not truly dispatchable power sources - meaning always available.
9) ISO-NE needs a certain level of base load dispatchable generation always available.
10) All power sources that bid into ISO-NE power pool are chosen based on price and availability.
11) Existing hydros are often one of the least expensive sources of dispatchable electricity.
12) The cost of the proposed CMP line will be borne entirely by Mass. ratepayers not by CMP customers.
13) There is 110 MW of excess capacity in the proposed line and is available to Maine ratepayers when it is needed.
14) The proposed line is sited entirely on private land or in CMP's existing r/w.
15) There will be an electric rate reduction for all CMP customers if power is provided by the proposed line. The amount of rate reduction will depend on the price of natural gas.
16) The projected life of the proposed line is 40 years plus.
17) There are parts of the proposal that will benefit all Maine ratepayers.
18) The proposed settlement already agreed to by CMP and many of the intervenors that directly affects us in Franklin county is as follows:
A) $15M broadband infrastructure for the host communities over 5 years
B) $4M for vocational programs in Franklin & Somerset counties over 5 years
C)$5M to support economic development for Franklin county residence over 5 years
D) $1M for internship & scholarships to UMF over 5 years
E) Approx 3500 jobs at peak during construction
F) Estimated $18M (year 1) property tax to host communities
G) Estimated $400,000 (year 1) property tax to the Town of Farmington
19) If this line isn't built all of the above benefits go away.
We must sort out what the true facts are. This is very difficult given all the half-truths and misinformation that has been distributed.
Central Maine Power has had problems in the past, some with the billing system, some with how they explained these problems, some with smart meters, some with outages and other missteps. Basically, this is a trust issue, however, the proposed settlement is not just CMP's guarantee but is backed by the following parties:
Office of the Public Advocate
Conservation Law Foundation
Industrial Energy Consumers Group
various Labor Groups
Maine State Chamber of Commerce
Governor's Energy Group
and it certainly appears that the proposed settlement will be backed by other opposition groups if their concerns for environmental mitigation are considered and adequately compensated.
This leaves many of us out here on a limb. What are we supposed to believe? Some of us are opposed to it because of the info being fed to us by opposition groups who are ready to flip if they get more compensation. Some of us will always be opposed to it and some of us are trying to sort out truth from fiction.
We as Maine people need to step back, take a deep breath and think about the future.
Yes, there will be clearings, there will be towers, but we have clearings and towers in the existing r/w which is all of the line that most of us will ever see in our lifetime.
Most of us don't stop to think about the source of our electricity. We just want it to be there when we flip the switch.
Where will our clean power come from in the future?
ISO-NE is tasked with determining where it comes from and most of that is determined by price and availability - not based on how clean the source is.
If we decide that this dispatchable clean hydro power proposal is rejected, then ISO-NE has no choice but to purchase the next available dispatchable source. It most certainly will be a fossil fuel source.
Please put aside all of the propaganda and half-truths that have been put forth by organizations that are ready to approve this proposal once they have received "adequate" compensation and look to the future.
This proposal really is a good deal for us Mainers not only for today, but for our future as well.
Maybe this proposal could be better, but maybe it is going to slip thru our fingers and be gone forever.
It's almost like when I buy one of a kind of "something". After I have purchased it, I think maybe if I had held out longer I could have gotten a better deal. Sometimes I have held out too long and someone else got the good deal.
We need to get behind this proposed NECEC project.
We cannot afford to hold out for a better deal--our grandchildren are the ones depending on us. Please support the NECEC project.