The CMP project is a well-designed and cost-effective path to New England's clean-energy future.
Maine has a longstanding and deserved reputation for both industrial innovation and for natural beauty. We have long been known for integrity, creative minds and hard work, high-quality goods, great customer service and outstanding natural resource management. Today, we are on the threshold of yet another, exceptional contribution to Maine’s and the region’s well-being. It is known as Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect, a well-designed and cost-effective path to New England’s clean-energy future.
Over the course of some years, CMP has assembled a strategic transmission corridor from the Canadian border down to Lewiston, the major energy hub for our state and our gateway to the New England electric grid. CMP’s proposed corridor would be a resource from which all of Maine may benefit, as it provides a steady supply of clean, reliable hydropower from Quebec to all New England. This power will displace older and soon-to-retire fossil fuel generation, making the air cleaner for everyone and helping to stabilize our energy prices.
As former Maine commissioners of conservation, concerned with both Maine’s economy and environment, we are struck by three things about this project:
• It is a cost-effective transmission solution.
• It is thoughtfully sited and environmentally responsible, as it runs through commercial forest before hooking into an existing transmission corridor.
• It offers needed benefits to Maine and the rest of New England.
New England Clean Energy Connect will tap into existing infrastructure and leverage recent investments in Lewiston for which ratepayers from all across New England have paid. It diversifies the use of Maine’s working forest west of The Forks before it connects to the existing transmission corridor from The Forks to Lewiston, where it in turns connects to the New England power grid. Unlike similar and much more costly proposals in New Hampshire and Vermont, New England Clean Energy Connect avoids environmentally sensitive areas such as a national forest or one of the region’s largest water bodies. And it is projected to cost much less to build than other transmission proposals.
The cost advantage of New England Clean Energy Connect is important. If cleaner, greener energy options are to succeed in today’s world, they must be cost-competitive and affordable to utility customers. With such careful siting and the use of infrastructure already in place, this project will allow the region’s clean-energy priority to be realized both affordably and efficiently.
Beyond its regional promise, the benefits specific to Maine from New England Clean Energy Connect will be substantial. As the result of careful negotiation with local industry leaders, the project will boost the economy of western Maine and help the state’s nature-based tourism industry. It will support thousands of jobs over a five-year permitting and construction period and contribute millions of dollars in new, annual tax revenue to many of the rural towns in Somerset, Franklin and Androscoggin counties.
It will result in more than $40 million in savings each year in electric rates for Maine households and businesses. And there are the very real environmental benefits associated with a major project like this one. Not only will the New England region breathe cleaner air, but the CMP project will have less environmental impact than other proposed projects.
Energy is the backbone of the modern economy, and electric power is essential to our daily lives. When without it, as many of us have been of late, we are quickly reminded of its critical importance. The addition of new, clean generation capacity – whether it’s hydropower, wind and solar, or battery storage – is an essential step in securing a brighter future for our children and grandchildren, for all our cities and towns.
Maine has valuable energy resources to contribute to a cleaner energy future, including the New England Clean Energy Connect proposal to link the vast hydro resources of nearby Canada with the New England energy market. Maine, Massachusetts, and all of New England will win when New England Clean Energy Connect comes online and delivers needed, clean energy to our region.
Let’s add to Maine’s reputation for industrial invention and wise natural resource management.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Richard Anderson and Richard Barringer are both former Maine conservation commissioners and residents of Portland.