FARMINGTON — Several area residents spoke to the Farmington Board of Selectmen on Tuesday night voicing opposition to the New England Clean Energy Connect project, though selectmen said they have no intention now of rescinding support for the proposed 145-mile transmission line running from Quebec to Lewiston.

“In 50 to 100 years, if we can still have great viewsheds, clean rivers, good trout and salmon fishing and good deer hunting, what will that be worth for the tourism industry, for our sons and daughters, our grandchildren?” said Darryl Wood, a registered Maine guide from New Sharon. “I think it’s valuable now. I’ve heard it from the rafting industry, the tourism industry, if we open this door, some of that will be diminished and significantly diminished over time.”

Wood was one of several area residents who spoke Tuesday in opposition to the project, which has been proposed by Central Maine Power to bring hydropower from Quebec to Massachusetts and is under consideration by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

In a letter presented to the board, Wood said he opposes the project because it would alter drastically the viewshed and environment of Franklin and Somerset counties and falls short in short-term benefits and long-range vision for the region.

He also encouraged the board, which issued a letter of support for the project months ago, to rescind their support and come out against the project.

About 30 people crowded into the meeting Tuesday night to echo Wood’s opposition. No one at the meeting spoke in favor of the project, which CMP has estimated will generate about $18 million annually in new tax income in Maine and will create on average 1,700 jobs during construction.


“I agree with all the reasons given, especially the visual impact,” said Farmington resident Karyl Condit, who described driving across the border into Canada and being greeted by massive power lines.

Farmington resident Fen Fowler explains his opposition to the New England Clean Energy Connect project to the Farmington Board of Selectmen on Tuesday evening.

“Aren’t we lucky we don’t have that intrusion in our beautiful, really one-of-a-kind landscape. For one mil off the tax rate, it really doesn’t make sense.”

Resident Sally Speich, a member of the town’s Conservation Committee, also spoke in opposition, saying the transmission line would harm the environment by requiring large numbers of trees to be clear-cut and disrupting wildlife.

“I am concerned about the number of trees being taken down,” Speich said. “Not only are trees a heat sink, but they also sequester carbon.” Members of the board said Tuesday night there are no plans currently to rescind their support of the project and they are looking forward to hearing representatives from CMP, who are scheduled to appear at their Feb. 12 meeting.

Selectman Michael Fogg said he does not oppose the project and he was surprised at the number of people who voiced opposition only after it came to light that a similar proposal in New Hampshire would have offered that state’s residents more benefits and that CMP was working on a separate initiative in Massachusetts to give $50 million in benefits to low-income customers.

“All of a sudden the climate changed, and it was ‘How come we’re not getting those? We want that money,'” Fogg said. “It’s not there, and I’m thinking it’s not going to be there; but my point is had that money arrived, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”


Darryl Wood, a registered Maine guide, speaks on Tuesday about his opposition to the proposed New England Clean Energy Connect project at a Farmington Board of Selectmen’s meeting.

Selectman Scott Landry, who is part of a group that had been trying to negotiate with CMP for more benefits for Franklin County, said he thinks it is likely the project will happen, but he still wants to see “what we can get for ourselves.”

“They did bow down and say they will go under the (Kennebec River Gorge),” Landry said. “I’m still listening to both sides. There are three people at the PUC that are going to make the ultimate decision. It’s out of our hands, I think.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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