We (Maine people) have been on our backs and received the short end of the stick since King George III ordered our majestic trees marked with his “broad arrow.” The smart Canadians have been taking our spruce, birches, maple, ash and even cedar since the 1990s, adding all the value inside Quebec and New Brunswick then exporting to us high-priced furniture, flooring and dimension lumber. What did Maine get from the Maritimes and Northeast natural gas pipeline that crossed Maine from Sable Island, NS, to the Dracut, Mass., hub? Their governor, Charlie Baker, refused to return the favor of sending natural gas to Maine.
So, here we go again. Our Spanish-owned utility, Central Maine Power (CMP), proposed a cost of $960 million for the 145-mile transmission line called NECEC. Eversource budgeted $1.6 billion for the longer connection from Hydro Quebec through New Hampshire. It also committed $200 million in economic development funds to Forward NH. CMP offered a paltry $22 million, then rolled over easily to bury the line under the Kennebec River for a mere $37 million.
There is no need to be a financial genius to see the enormous profits to CMP (Avangrid) with Maine rates at 16 cents KWH versus Massachusetts rates of 22 cents. The contract with Hydro Quebec is for 20 years but the project will last a century or more. Our PUC should publish projected financial statements for the life of the contract so the public can see just how big a deal this is and how little Maine gains from it. To top this off the PUC has not announced the standard offer rates for 2019, but we hear 20-30 percent increase. Why?
Without objecting to the transmission line itself, and even though CMP has publicly stated that the project will not benefit wind developers, I have my doubts. There is ample DC/AC conversion technology and you can bet Nextera will be piggybacking on CMP. Nextera’s 133 proposed wind turbine units will decapitate the vistas in affected unorganized townships. The breathtakingly beautiful Route 27 corridor must be protected at all costs. LUPC has another hearing scheduled Dec. 12, but no agenda yet, so watch out, folks, because this is all part of the same crony capitalist/political scheme.
On Oct. 5, the Superquad ride at Sugarloaf afforded the most spectacular fall foliage show in memory, interrupted only by the 44 wind turbines on Kibby Mountain. Can anyone imagine 133 more?