It is time for Central Maine Power to come clean and stop telling tall tales about the New England Clean Energy Connect Corridor. It needs to stop telling these tales around jobs, lower electric rates and “clean” hydropower. It needs to tell the truth.

For CMP, the corridor is all about huge profits and nothing more.

Tom Saviello

Let’s start with its job creation claims.

One flyer CMP put out said there would be 3,500 jobs created. A later flyer and recent ads say there will be 1,600 jobs. The truth: when the project is completed, there will be only 38 direct jobs created, according to a report on file with the Public Utilities Commission.

Yet, if the corridor project is built, Maine’s biomass industry will be devastated. According to a story in the Daily Bulldog and from personal communication with local companies, more than 200 jobs would be lost in Franklin County alone — jobs that are critical to the area’s rural economy.

Additionally, I expect the renewable energy industry will be lost. In a recent report, commissioned by CMP and put out by Stepwise Data Research Report, it was predicted that the renewable industry would lose more than $400 million over the next 15 years. It’s difficult to imagine that Maine’s growing renewable energy sector could withstand that kind of loss, which should be alarming since, in 2019, Maine’s solar industry alone employed more than 625 people.

The London Economic Institute report even goes further to define the jobs that would be created by the corridor. “Moreover, although the new jobs created by development and construction of the project are located in Maine, the positions are not necessarily filled by local Maine residents. The new jobs consist of a mix of full-time and temporary jobs and can be held by Maine residents or by migrant workers that move to Maine specifically for this project, and who might move out of the region right after the construction work is completed.”

The math is pretty clear, the loss in jobs far outweighs any gains from the corridor and the new jobs are not necessarily for Mainers.

CMP’s recent ads talk about $350 million in electrical savings, yet the Stepwise Report states that the reduction in wholesale electricity prices will be $14 million per year, over 15 years. Further, nowhere is it guaranteed that savings would be passed along to the consumer. If we do decide to take CMP at its word and trust it will pass along the savings, when divided out by household, it equals a measly six cents per Mainer per month.

Again, the math is pretty clear. The amount of money we Mainers might see is a pittance.

CMP’s expensive ads would also leave one to believe that it is tackling this project because it cares deeply about climate change, not profit. That messaging is interesting since its own spokesman stated, “So, the question about whether, whether this (NECEC) will make a difference in climate change. CMP has no, no doubt that it will — we can’t guarantee it. That’s not our job, that’s not our business.”

During the Department of Environmental Protection permitting effort, CMP’s lawyer made it very clear this project was not about climate change at least six times. Here’s one example from his letter: “In fact, nowhere has CMP stated the project’s purpose and need includes GHG (greenhouse gas) reduction.”

Duncan Graham-Rowe, in his article “Hydroelectric Power’s Dirty Secret Revealed” wrote, “Contrary to popular belief, hydroelectric power can seriously damage the climate.” He goes on to say “Hydroelectric dams produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, and in some cases produce more of these greenhouse gases than power plants running on fossil fuels.”

Dr. Bradford Hager, professor of Earth Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in his testimony to the Army Corps of Engineers, said, “There is an extremely wide range of greenhouse gas emissions from hydro facilities. Six of Hydro-Québec’s reservoirs are among the top 25% of greenhouse gas emitters of hydro plants worldwide.  Their emissions range from about that of a modern natural gas power plant to over twice that of coal power plants.”

They are definitely not the source of green power that they are made out to be. It becomes very clear this project is not about greenhouse gas reduction.

According to a Wall Street analysis, if the project is constructed, CMP’s foreign owner will make $5 million per month for 20 years. Hydro-Quebec, another foreign company, will make $41 million per month.

Meanwhile, Maine stands to lose a viable forest products industry, the biomass industry (worth $850 million annually, source: Commission to Study the Economic, Environmental and Energy Benefits of the Maine Biomass Industry, December 2016); and Maine could lose local renewable energy businesses; all for 38 full-time jobs. Mainers might see a 6-cent reduction per month on their household electric bills.

Finally, there will be no greenhouse gas reductions.

As clearly stated in various statements by CMP, “it is not our job.”

The New England Clean Energy Connect Corridor is a bad deal for Maine, and needs to be rejected at the ballot box in November.

Dr. Tom Saviello holds a Ph.D. in forest resources and is a former state senator for Franklin County. He presently serves as a selectperson in Wilton.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.