FARMINGTON — More than 30 people who testified at a public hearing Friday night urged the Public Utilities Commission to reject Central Maine Power Co.’s application to build a 145-mile transmission line through western Maine.

Nearly 150 people filled Lincoln Auditorium at the University of Maine at Farmington for the hearing on the proposal.

The $950 million New England Clean Energy Connect project proposes building a transmission line to deliver power generated by Hydro-Quebec to users in Massachusetts.

The line through Maine would begin in Beattie Township in Franklin County and extend east and south into Somerset, Androscoggin and Cumberland counties.

Opposition to the project was overwhelmingly voiced by the more than 30 people who presented testimony. The common theme was the impact the project would have on the environment, natural resources and tourism, and a lack of job creation and economic benefits.

Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, spoke against the project, citing the lack of an economic agreement that would benefit local communities.

Saviello said elected officials from the Franklin County Commission and the towns of Wilton, Farmington, Chesterville and New Sharon had been working with CMP to reach an economic agreement. However, CMP canceled an Aug. 30 meeting to continue discussions about an agreement at the last minute, he said.

Without benefits in place for local communities, Saviello asked PUC commissioners to vote against the project.

“We are no longer a colony of Massachusetts,” he said.

Old Canada Road Scenic Byway Committee Chairman Thomas Moore of Bingham also urged commissioners to vote against the project.

“Why do we want to harm the existing, strong tourism economy we have, especially in Franklin and Somerset counties, which the project directly threatens?” Moore asked.

Susan Davis of Kingfield referred to Flagstaff Plantation, Dead River Plantation, and Bigelow Township in Somerset County that were flooded in the mid-1900s when CMP built a dam on the Dead River.

“We’ve already lost three towns to CMP’s holding pond,” Davis said before asking commissioners to reject the application.

Representing the PUC at the hearing were Chairman Bruce Williamson and Commissioner Mark Vannoy. Mitch Tannenbaum was the presiding officer.

Friday’s hearing was held simultaneously with another at The Forks Town Hall in The Forks Plantation in Somerset County. A third meeting will be scheduled in Hallowell, Tannenbaum said.

[email protected]

filed under: