JAY — A silent protest is set for May 30 to support Jay petitioners seeking a special town meeting to vote on the proposed construction of a 145-mile transmission line to bring hydropower from Quebec to Massachussetts.

The nearly $1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect project would be built by Central Maine Power and cut a corridor through Somerset, Franklin and Androscoggin counties.

The protest from 5:45 to about 7 p.m. coincides with the select board meeting at 6 p.m. at the Town Office.

Stryker Alexzander Adams of Livermore Falls is organizing the protest under the slogan: “Our Town, Our Voices: No CMP Corridor.”  The protest, which will include signs but no speakers, will go from the intersection of Route 4 and Riley Road to Jay Plaza. The Town Office is across from the plaza.

“People deserve to have their voices heard,” said Adams, who grew up in Jay and has family there.

Selectpersons denied a petition by a 2-2 vote May 13. It was signed by 217 registered voters and requested a special town meeting to vote on the project.


Selectperson Judy Diaz abstained from voting, at the request of petitioners, because she appeared in a TV commercial supporting the project. Selectpersons Gary McGrane and Chairman Terry Bergeron voted in favor of moving the petition forward, while Vice Chairman Tim DeMillo and Tom Goding opposed it.

Petitioners are “looking at the application procedure necessary to apply for a notary to initiate the meeting,” Jay resident Susan Theberge wrote in an email Thursday. She is a member of the Say No to New England Clean Energy Connect. The grass-roots nonprofit organization is member-funded and the donations go to its legal effort at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Land Use Planning Commission, according to Theberge.

According to state law, “If the selectmen unreasonably refuse to call a town meeting, a notary public may call the meeting on the written petition of a number of voters equal to at least 10% of the number of votes cast in the town at the last gubernatorial election, but in no case less than 10.”

Theberge asked Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere for emails pertaining to the CMP project. LaFreniere gave her 87 emails.

A portion of a few emails posted on the Say No to NECEC  Facebook page did not reveal what the emails pertained to. One comment under a post took LaFreniere to task saying she and other town officials were coached by CMP’s public relations firm.

The portion of the email dated Oct. 20, 2017, which LaFreniere received from the company, was about making a project video. The project had been introduced by CMP in the summer of 2017. Most towns sent letters of support for it at the time. Some towns have since changed their positions, including voters in Farmington and Wilton who have voted against supporting the project. Franklin County commissioners also pulled their support of the project.


A portion from an Oct. 23, 2017, email from a public relations firm to LaFreniere read, “‘How about something like this … in your own, natural voice, and therefore maybe a little less contrived: The town of Jay supports Central Maine’s clean energy proposal. We’ve enjoyed a long working relationship with CMP and have found them to be an excellent neighbor and community partner.'”

In an email prior to it, LaFreniere declined filming on any issue not specific to the town. If there was something specific to the town, to benefit to the community, she would consider doing it, LaFreniere wrote.

Selectpersons had no objection to the quote or to LaFreniere appearing on video, she said Thursday.

Selectpersons are her bosses, LaFreniere said, and she works to support them and tries to do what is best for the town. The Jay board was told by a CMP official during a presentation in 2018 that the town stood to gain over $400,000 annually in new tax revenue from the project, if approved.

Part of her position, LaFreniere said, is to support businesses in the community.

Theberge said they continue to review LaFreniere’s emails.

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