The debate about the New England Clean Energy Connect plan to build a transmission line across western Maine is a murky swirl of dialogue. The real debate is whether it is feasible to keep Maine’s beautiful and priceless western scenery 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 subsea 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).

Furthermore, let’s save money and the environment by using about 150 miles of railroad right-of-way that already exists. Look at Maine DOT’s Maine Rail System 2016 map, and set the NECEC proposed 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?

Let’s do it.

Lisa Miller