I have spent the past year working to ensure Mainers know exactly how Maine will benefit from the New England Clean Energy Connect project. Despite what groups opposed to the project would have people believe, Mainers won’t pay a penny to build the project. There will be thousands of new jobs during construction, millions in new property tax revenue, hundreds of millions in electrical infrastructure improvements, and lower energy costs as a result — all while cutting three million metric tons of carbon emissions over the next decade.

And now, the deal is even better.

Jon Breed

A new discount power deal announced between Maine and Hydro-Quebec means that electricity from the NECEC will be sold directly to Maine at a reduced rate. The criticism that Mainers would not directly receive any of the power from this line is now moot, but don’t expect the opposition groups who have been railing against the project to admit that. They have too much to lose.

The groups opposing the project are fronts for fossil fuel corporations from Texas and Florida, and those out-of-state corporations are spending millions to spread misinformation about the project. They created a political action committee that was behind signature forgeries and election law violations, as well as a dark money group to secretly funnel money to the Natural Resources Council of Maine to help greenwash their misinformation efforts. Their campaign simply doesn’t match up with what we know to be true, based on hours of public hearings, testimony and approvals issued by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, Maine Land Use Planning Commission, Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

These fossil fuel corporations are absolutely committed to killing this project because they stand to lose as much as $1.8 billion as Maine and New England ditch dirty, fossil-fuel generated power. That is why their front groups will never acknowledge any of the NECEC’s benefits. No matter what improvement is made to the NECEC, no matter which of their concerns are addressed, these opposition groups will continue to cry foul and keep moving the goalposts.

They claim the NECEC will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the driving force behind climate change. When the Maine Public Utilities Commission cited “reductions in overall GHG emissions through corresponding reductions of fossil fuel generation” as one of the many benefits of the project, that wasn’t good enough. Opposition groups ignored the finding and offer instead a study full of their own “alternative facts.”

They complained the corridor was too wide as originally proposed; but when the corridor width was reduced to just 54 feet at its widest point, that still wasn’t good enough. They complained that too much of our waters and lands would be impacted; but when the path was rerouted at several points to make the line less intrusive, that still wasn’t good enough. When it was made clear that pesticides wouldn’t be used on the new section of the corridor, that 40,000 acres of woodlands would be permanently conserved in western Maine because of the project, and that natural forest canopy and wildlife habitats would remain intact, that still wasn’t good enough.

They said it wasn’t right that Maine wouldn’t benefit financially or directly receive power from the line; but when the state negotiated a $258 million benefit package, they complained it wasn’t generous enough. Now, a new deal is in place that will deliver 500,000 megawatt hours from the NECEC directly to Mainers at a discounted rate — enough electricity to Maine to power 70,000 homes. But — you guessed it — that’s not good enough for them, either.

It is well past time for the true motivations of these opposition groups to be exposed for what they are. They will blindly oppose the project at every turn, no matter the circumstances or terms. They will keep making excuses to oppose it and spread any lie they can come up with, offering no plan of their own to bring more renewable power onto the grid and a billion dollar investment into our state. Killing this renewable energy project is the only outcome their fossil fuel backers will accept.

Jon Breed is the executive director of Clean Energy Matters, a political action committee working in support of the NECEC project.

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