Nearly half the respondents to a statewide poll conducted this month intend to vote to stop construction of Central Maine Power Co.’s controversial transmission corridor that would bring hydro electricity to the New England power grid.

Digital Research Inc. of Portland, which conducted the poll, said it found that 49 percent of Mainers will vote “Yes” to stop construction while 36 percent will vote “No,” which would allow construction to proceed. Fifteen percent of those polled said they were unsure or were unwilling to state a preference.

The Critical Insights on Maine poll found through additional polling that Maine residents generally oppose the New England Clean Energy Connect project by 2-1 margin, “believing it is most likely to bolster Central Maine Power’s profits and benefit Massachusetts utility customers at the expense of the environment in Western Maine.”

“While this poll cannot be perfectly predictive of the outcome of the vote, this is a reasonable indicator that the ballot initiative will pass since nearly all the uncommitted would need to break in the direction of No for the issue to fail,” said Bob Domine, president of Digital Research, in a news release Thursday.

His non-partisan company paid for the poll, which was conducted via telephone and online and got responses from 604 Mainers likely to vote on Nov. 2. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Critical Insights on Maine is an omnibus survey that offers private groups interested in the opinions of Mainers with a means to survey them.

“We’re not claiming to have any special insights here,” Domine said in a telephone interview Thursday evening. “We feel we did a pretty good job of providing an unbiased, scientific survey on this issue.”

Among the poll’s other findings:

• Six of 10 voters in Maine who have heard of the corridor said they oppose it (61 percent) compared to 3 in 10 who indicated support (29 percent).

• Six in 10 voters believe the corridor will bolster CMP’s profits (59 percent).

• While expressing skepticism about the benefits of the corridor, half of voters believe it will have a negative impact on the environment of Maine (52 percent).

Voters will go to the polls on Nov. 2 to decide Question 1 and two other ballot questions, as well as local races.

The NECEC project is billed by backers as a way to replace fossil-fuel generated electricity with renewable hydro power. But rather than being widely embraced as a green-power solution for New England, NECEC has triggered one of the most divisive environmental battles in Maine history.

The project calls for a high-voltage, direct-current transmission line with a capacity of 1,200 megawatts, enough energy to run roughly 1 million homes. It would carry energy from Hydro-Quebec to an alternate-current converter station in Lewiston, where it would enter the New England grid. The nearly $1 billion price tag would be paid by Massachusetts ratepayers.

The 145-mile route is on land owned or controlled by CMP, except for a one-mile patch through Maine public lands near The Forks. Two-thirds of the route follows existing CMP power line corridors, some of which are already being widened up to 75 feet to accommodate another set of poles.


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