I spent a week listening to the Department of Environmental Protection hearings on Central Maine Power’s proposed transmission line (NECEC project). Sadly, many of the organizations that oppose the project have misled the public. Some have said the project is bad, even though they would support it, if they get more compensation.

Hearing the testimony, I found it difficult to sort out what the real truth is. What must be taken into consideration is that many older coal, oil and nuclear generating facilities will be permanently retired in the near future. The 670-megawatt Pilgrim Nuclear Plant will cease operation permanently on June 1, after operating for more than 50 years.

Initially, fossil fuel will take its place as Independent System Operator of New England dispatchable base-load source. But carbon emission from fossil fuel generation contributes to greenhouse gases, which are some of the major causes of climate change. And wind and solar are not truly dispatchable power sources — meaning always available. ISO-NE needs a certain level of base-load, dispatchable generation always available.

Established hydro-generation facilities have practically no carbon emissions and are often one of the least expensive sources of dispatchable electricity. All power sources that bid into the ISO-NE power pool are chosen based on price and availability.

It is reasonable to expect that electrical usage will increase in the future as more homes are built and as more electric car and heat pump technology is promoted.

It should also be noted that the cost of the proposed CMP line, which is sited entirely on CMP’s land, will be borne entirely by Massachusetts ratepayers, not by CMP customers. Also, there is 110 MW of excess capacity in the proposed line, which would be available to Maine ratepayers when it is needed. Rarely mentioned is that there would be an electric rate reduction for all CMP customers if power is provided by the proposed line. The amount of rate reduction would depend on the price of natural gas.

There are other parts of the proposal that would benefit Maine ratepayers.

The proposed settlement already agreed to by CMP and many of the intervenors that directly affects people in Franklin county includes $15 million for broadband infrastructure for the host communities through five years; $4 million for vocational programs in Franklin and Somerset counties through five years; $5 million to support economic development for Franklin County residents through five years; $1 million for internship programs and scholarships to UMF over five years; estimated $18 million (Year 1) in property taxes to host communities with an estimated $400,000 (Year 1) property tax boost to the town of Farmington.

Add in that there will be approximately 3,500 jobs needed during peak construction.

If the line isn’t built, all of those benefits go away.

Yes, Central Maine Power has had problems in the past with its billing system — with smart meters, with outages and other missteps. Basically, this is a trust issue, however, the proposed settlement is not just CMP’s guarantee. It is backed by the Office of the Public Advocate, Conservation Law Foundation, Industrial Energy Consumers Group, various labor groups, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the governor’s Energy Group. 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.

Mainers need to step back, take a deep breath and think about the future. Many people don’t stop to think about the source of their electricity. They just want it to be there when they flip the switch. But where will future clean power come from?

CMP’s proposal really is a good deal for Mainers, not only for today, but for the future. We must not let it slip through our fingers and be gone forever. Our grandchildren are depending on us.

Delbert Reed is a registered professional electrical engineer. He has been an operations manager for CMP and has worked as a construction manager, building electrical substations and transmission lines. He lives in Freeman Township.


Comments are not available on this story.