WOOLWICH — Woolwich residents will vote to decide whether the town should continue to support a proposed 145-mile Central Maine Power corridor that would cut across Maine to send hydropower from Canada to Massachusetts

Residents Dani Friend and Sherri Harvey collected enough petition signatures to prompt a November referendum to oppose the project. This comes two years after the Woolwich Select Board drafted a letter in support of the corridor and a few weeks after the same board narrowly rejected a bid to reverse that stance.

At a Sept. 3 select board meeting, Selectmen Allen Greene, Jason Shaw and Chairman David King Sr. voted not to rescind the town’s support of the project, while two other members, Dale Chadbourne and Allison Hepler, voted to rescind.

The petition needed 178 signatures from Woolwich voters to get the issue on November’s ballot. The petitioners gathered 193 valid signatures, according to Kim Dalton, Woolwich town administrator.

“I was very happy to hear the town will get to vote on this issue because we all deserve a chance for our voices to be heard,” said Friend.

The proposed project would lead to the installation of 145 miles of transmission line across western Maine starting from the Canadian border in Franklin Country, through Somerset County and ending in Lewiston. In addition, CMP is looking to install lines on its existing infrastructure on a corridor in the Midcoast between Windsor and Woolwich.

“The project will not benefit Maine, it will do detrimental harm to our landscape and ecosystem,” said Friend, who previously worked for CMP, referencing the impact of the western Maine section of the corridor. “There’s a 53-mile stretch of this state that will be cut into that is untouched, beautiful and pristine.”

So far in Maine, 17 of the 38 municipalities impacted by the project have voted to oppose the project or rescinded their earlier support.

While only 1 mile of the transmission line would cross into Woolwich, Friend said she’s against the line because, “We need to look at this project as a whole, we can’t just piecemeal it.”

King, who voted not to rescind Woolwich’s letter of support for the project, said he wasn’t surprised the petition passed but wishes people took the time to read a note selectmen wrote in 2017.

“The letter says we’re in favor of clean energy, and my opinion on that hasn’t changed,” said King. “It’s hard for me to fathom how everyone wants everything to run on electricity, but they don’t want to bring electricity into New England’s grid.”

Even if a town along the proposed transmission line rescinds its support or denies a permit to allow CMP to install the lines, the Public Utilities Commission, which regulates utility companies in Maine, has the power to override a denied permit at the local level if commissioners decide the project is needed for “public welfare and convenience,” the Portland Press Herald reported earlier this month.

In April, the PUC granted CMP a certificate stating the benefits of CMP’s proposed $1 billion transmission line outweigh harder-to-gauge impacts on scenery and outdoor recreation in the western Maine mountains.

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