AUGUSTA, ME - The Somerset County-based nonprofit Western Mountains and Rivers Corporation (WM&RC) and Central Maine Power Company (CMP) today announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for investment in western Maine conservation and nature-based tourism infrastructure in response to CMP’s proposed New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission project.
The MOU was proposed by conservation, recreation and economic development interests in response to CMP’s request for input on plans for a portion of the transmission line to cross the Kennebec River.
“CMP proactively sought mitigation ideas that would help western Maine achieve its potential as a hub for outdoor recreation. Early in the discussions, both WM&RC and CMP realized that an agreement would bring benefits to the region,” said Larry Warren, one of WM&RC directors. Following months of talks, the parties identified a suitable design for the line to cross the river with limited scenic impacts.
While the specifics of the agreement have not yet been made public, CMP would underwrite a substantial local fund administered by WM&RC to enhance conservation, outdoor recreation and economic development.
Among the measures included, CMP would transfer certain scenic lands along the Dead River to WM&RC, would assist in the potential development of a visitor center and would fund education programs and trail development and maintenance. CMP also agreed to install fiber optic cable that will enhance broadband and Wi-Fi access for residents and businesses of Somerset and Franklin counties along Route 201 and Route 27.
“WM&RC took a hard look at all the options for having the transmission line cross the Kennebec,” said Joe Christopher, Three Rivers Whitewater Owner and WM&RC Director. “We are working with local stakeholders to determine the best possible way to cross the Kennebec River in a way that provides the most positive outcome possible. We have worked hard to develop a meaningful mitigation package that will have substantial and long lasting positive impacts on the Northwestern part of Maine including retention and creation of jobs, preservation of lands for conservation and recreation, creation and expansion of vital regional trail networks and other mitigation actions to fairly balance the impacts of this project.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Land Use Planning Commission, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies will be the ultimate decision-makers on whether the project is permitted and how it crosses the Kennebec River. CMP filed its application for state permits in September 2017, with public hearings for those permits expected this fall.
About Central Maine Power Central Maine Power Company (CMP), a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc., is Maine’s largest electricity transmission and distribution utility. Established in 1899, CMP operates approximately 23,500 miles of distribution lines and 2,900 miles of transmission lines. It serves approximately 624,000 customers across 346 communities in central and southern Maine. For more information, visit www.cmpco.com.
About Western Mountains & Rivers Corporation a Maine nonprofit public benefit corporation formed for the purpose of expanding conservation of the Kennebec, Dead, Sandy, Moose, Sebasticook and Carrabassett rivers; developing recreation projects and education programs about the history, ecology and uses of Maine’s lands and rivers; and expanding economic development opportunities along the rivers of Western Maine.