WOOLWICH — The Woolwich Select Board is considering whether to withdraw its support for Central Maine Power Co.’s proposed 145-mile transmission line that would send hydropower from Canada to Massachusetts, after residents urged the switch during a meeting Monday.

The board is expected to vote Sept. 3 on whether to rescind a letter of support it wrote in 2017. If Woolwich revokes its support, it would be the ninth municipality to do so. Twelve towns have voted outright to oppose the project.

“I was a reluctant supporter in 2017 and I’ve come to oppose it as we’ve learned more about it,” said Woolwich Selectman Allison Hepler. “We wrote the letter based on the little information we had at the time, but I’m ready to revisit it.”

Only one mile of the transmission line crosses through town, so the project, “has very little effect on Woolwich,” said Select Board Chairman David King Sr. “At the time there was no opposition to the project, but now that people are voicing their concerns, we’re reconsidering.” 

“I understand the line isn’t necessarily in Woolwich, but we need to look at this project as a whole,” said Dani Friend of Woolwich, who previously worked for CMP and was among those calling on selectmen to revoke their support. “The project will not benefit Maine, it will do detrimental harm. There’s a 53-mile stretch of this state that will be cut into that is untouched, beautiful and pristine.”

The project calls for installing 145 miles of transmission line across western Maine. Ninety-two of those miles already have the infrastructure in place, meaning wires would be added to existing towers. But the remaining 53 miles are not pristine, according to Thorne Dickenson, project manager for the proposed transmission line.

“This is an area that has been logged and harvested on a regular basis. We located the project carefully in an area that is already impacted,” he said.

Dickenson said while the project was not created to supply Maine with power, it offers other benefits to Mainers, including 1,600 new jobs.

In February Gov. Janet Mills backed a deal that has CMP providing $258 million to Mainers over 40 years to help lower electric bills in exchange for a permit to build the transmission line.

Friend is helping to circulate for a November referendum opposing the project in Woolwich, in case the Select Board doesn’t rescind its support. The petition needs 130 signatures for a question to appear on the ballot. So far, about 50 signatures have been collected.


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