Clean Energy Connect Project Will Benefit Mainers While Cutting Carbon Pollution

Transmission line will bring much-needed clean energy to New England and economic benefits to Maine.

Sean Mahoney | @SeanCLF

Central Maine Power’s Clean Energy Connect project will build a 145-mile transmission line through Maine to connect more than 1,000 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to New England’s electrical grid. By bringing more clean energy to the region, the project will reduce our reliance on dangerous, expensive fracked gas and significantly cut climate-damaging emissions.

CLF, working with other parties including the administration of Maine’s newly elected Governor Janet Mills, have been working with Central Maine Power (CMP) to improve the project, to ensure it benefits Maine families and businesses directly.

Our just-announced settlement agreement will do just that, providing more than $260 million worth of benefits to Mainers, including financial incentives to boost sales of electric cars, energy efficiency programs for low- and moderate-income households, and improvements to the state’s power grid structure to deliver more locally developed renewable energy statewide.

Climate change threatens New Englanders’ health, environment, and economy. We must take aggressive action to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate impacts. Low-carbon hydropower, like that offered through the Clean Energy Connect project, is part of a much needed, comprehensive strategy to address this urgent threat to our way of life.

How the Clean Energy Connect Project Benefits New England 

New England – Maine in particular – stands on the front lines of climate change. The Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest-warming bodies of water in the world, a reality that is already damaging local industries. And all of New England is at risk.

The Clean Energy Connect Project has the potential to slash our region’s climate-damaging emissions, helping us stave off the worst impacts from our changing climate. Adding more hydropower to our energy mix means dirty gas-powered plants will run less often or not at all. That, in turn, means fewer climate-damaging emissions – plus less smog and other air pollution that harms public health.

What’s more, gas prices are notoriously volatile, which directly impacts New Englanders’ wallets through unpredictable prices for heat and electricity. Ending our dependence on this dirty fuel through an influx of clean energy will lower the cost of electricity region-wide, letting families and businesses spend less on their energy bills and more on the things that matter most.

How the Clean Energy Connect Project Benefits Mainers

While the Clean Energy Connect project will be good for all New Englanders, we recognize that it’s Mainers who will live with the project in their home state. That’s why CLF has been working for months to ensure that, in addition to the benefits above, the project also helps the families and businesses of Maine directly.

We have been joined by the Governor’s Energy Office, the Office of the Maine Public Advocate, the Industrial Energy Consumer Group, Acadia Center and several other organizations in these complex negotiations, which have secured $260 million worth of benefits to make the project a better deal for Mainers. The project and/or CMP will now:

  • Improve the ability of Maine’s power grid structure to deliver locally developed renewable energy to Maine families and businesses;
  • Provide $15 million to help Mainers transition from polluting gas guzzlers to clean electric vehicles;
  • Fund a study and public process to help Maine and the region plan its path to achieving net zero emissions;
  • Provide $15 million to help Mainers convert their home heating systems to clean, efficient electric heat pumps;
  • Invest $50 million in energy efficiency programs for low- and moderate-income Mainers;
  • Support legislation to improve incentives for solar power and renewable energy development;
  • Increase broadband access for families and businesses in communities through which the line will run; and
  • Save Mainers money on their electricity bill.

We are also striving to ensure that Maine’s natural resources are protected to the greatest extent possible. While more than 60 percent of the project will be built in existing, already-developed transmission corridors, and much of the rest of the line will run through privately owned working forests already used for logging and industry, CLF will continue to work throughout the permitting process to ensure that CMP avoids, minimizes, and/or mitigates any natural resource impacts of the transmission line as much as possible. CMP has already agreed to bury the line under the iconic Kennebec Gorge, keeping it clear for wildlife and tourism. Additionally, Central Maine Power has committed $10 million to the Passamaquoddy tribe and the Western Mountains Alliance to protect the scenic and fragile habitats of the area, develop a local visitor center, and build and maintain hiking trails.

New England Needs the Clean Energy Connect Project

The science is clear – immediate and meaningful action is needed to slash climate-damaging emissions if we want to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change. Climate change threatens to wreak havoc on Maine and New England’s forests, coastlines, and way of life. That means we must stop using dirty fossil fuels as soon as possible – and push forward large-scale clean energy projects like the Clean Energy Connect Project.

Waiting to act is no longer acceptable.

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