Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

Jackman, a view of the Atian pond near Maine, with mountains in the background and fog in a valley below.

A View of Atian Pond near Jackman, Maine.
Pictures: Robert F. Bukati (AP)

Only five companies have spent $ 96.3 million in the last two years fighting a transmission line in North Maine that will face counting at the ballot box next week. A remote transmission line running through sparsely populated wooden miles may not seem like a big deal, but the problem has had far more impact across the Maine border.

The fight has been so controversial that part-time mayors The money was Carlson’s weight. And it’s been so weird, maybe enough, Buttsheet reliably Climate deniers were actually in favor of environmentalists opposing the project. Voting will take place next week.

At the heart of all this money and weird bedfellows is a proposed 145-mile (233-kilometer) transmission line owned by local utility Central Main Power (CMP). The line will run through the northern part of Maine, connecting Canada-generated hydropower to Massachusetts’ grid to help the state meet its clean energy goals. Actually $ 1 billion corridor construction Started in February. But the power line is the focus of the Nov. 2 ballot initiative that could probably kill the project. (There was an extra effort to keep the line on last year’s ballot Considered unconstitutional.)

As a utility dive Report, The financial battle for the fate of Maine Wood is basically being fueled by only five agencies on different sides of the issue. Avangrid, the owner of CMP, and Hydro-Québec, who own the hydropower plant on the other end of the line, are throwing money at the campaign to keep the project alive. The pair spent $ 66.5 million on PAC alone to fight the ballot measure (a “yes” vote would kill the project). The project would be a huge victory for these two companies: Hydro-Quebec could earn $ 490 million a year from the line alone, which would supply about 8% of the electricity used in New England.

NextAra Energy Resources, on the other hand, is one of the largest utilities in the country; Calpine, a natural gas company; And Vistra, a Texas-based power company, has been spending big to defeat the line. Together, they poured $ 24 million into a separate PAC. A spokesman for the CMP’s lobbying arm told Arthur in May that all three companies owned oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The project could reduce energy and power prices in the region, Utility Dive reported, which would be a problem for their bottom line.

Nearly $100 million is a lot of money for Maine. The Bangor Daily News The cost was $ 31.5 million In total To kill the Washington State Carbon Tax referendum in 2018. Overall, the CMP fight is the second-most expensive political campaign in the state’s history, compared to just last year. Nationally controversial fight for the Senate Sen. Between Susan Collins and her Democratic rival.

All of this money is being thrown at something that has caused real local tension in Maine. The line is proposed to run through 53 miles north of Maine, Woods, a Parcel of 3.5-million-acre land It is the largest undeveloped forest in the Eastern US Environmental Group, and the project has raised concerns about how it will affect endangered Brook trout living in rivers along the proposed route. Locals have expressed concern about how construction would harm tourism in North Woods, an important industry in the region. Cities have complained that they have not been adequately consulted by the CMP about the project and that the project is in fact Some local renewable projects have stopped Area from moving forward. Some environmentalists also claim that the hydropower that will come from Quebec Not as clear It is designed to be. The power line that will send clean energy south of Maine’s rich neighbors instead of the state adds another layer of tension.

These are real, difficult conversations about how local communities can be disrupted by large-ticket energy projects and deal with conservation on a large scale and stopping catastrophic climate change on a larger scale. But as Campaign Finance data shows, they are effectively being hijacked by corporate money on both sides for their own benefit. Carlson’s segment, which aired in May, explains how bad actors can use these issues to paint a completely renewable energy in a negative light.

“This corridor is more than a power project – it’s an attack on rural America and the people who live there,” Carlson said in his segment. This is not exactly what is happening, but the huge amount of money being spent in this one rural part of America, it is not surprising that people are questioning the purpose.

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