The debate about Central Maine Power’s plan to build New England Clean Energy Connect – a transmission line across western Maine – is a murky swirl of dialogue that needs to be simplified, and then settled.

The debate about whether or not to consume this power is false: Carbon-free power generated and used anywhere will help to hasten the day when fossil fuel power becomes uncompetitive with other sources, and hence obsolete. The free market for fossil fuels needs to be the force that eventually makes this happen. This Quebec hydropower should be delivered, so let’s get to it.

The real debate is whether it is feasible to keep Maine’s beautiful and priceless western scenery intact while delivering this power. Yes, it is feasible.

Consider that delivering large amounts of power via subsurface cables is a well-established technology. Massive American cities distribute many gigawatts of power via cables in tunnels. Maine’s islands rarely have power plants on them; instead, their power arrives via undersea cables. These systems today are reliable and efficient. So, why is this not Plan “A”? Recall that the revised current plan tunnels the power lines under the Kennebec River (this was a change forced by public outcry), so there you go.

Furthermore, let’s save money and the environment by using about 150 miles of right-of-way that already exists … it’s railroad right-of-way. Take a look at the Maine Department of Transportation’s Maine Rail System 2016 map, and set the proposed NECEC route map next to it. There are eerie similarities. Even better, river crossings are already provided with the existing railroad infrastructure. By the way, would the railroads possibly be intrigued with having a clean power source alongside their tracks?

I can’t believe that we would agree to run a string of pylons through Maine’s mountains, when there is a viable alternative.

Lisa Miller

Scarborough


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: