x
Breaking News
More () »

Maine's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Maine | NewsCenterMaine.com

Army Corps of Engineers grants permit for CMP corridor

The permit clears the way for construction to begin, but not everyone is on board.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted approval to the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) Clean Energy Corridor, AVANGRID, Inc. announced Wednesday.

The NECEC is a renewable energy project being built by AVANGRID to bring hydropower from Quebec to Maine and other parts of New England.

“The Army Corps permit is a significant milestone because it clears the way for construction to begin in the coming weeks,” said AVANGRID President, Robert Kump. “We are excited to start construction on this critical renewable energy project so we can begin to deliver the numerous benefits of NECEC including new local jobs, significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, millions of dollars in economic investment and incentives for Maine, and lower energy prices for all of New England. The NECEC is good for Mainers, good for our economy and good for our environment.”

“The NECEC is projected to inject more than $570 million into Maine’s economy and this project will ensure steady work for Mainers in a time of great economic uncertainty,” Kump continued.

“We have already announced more than $300 million worth of contracts that provide much-needed jobs and investment in the state and job fairs will be held across Maine this Fall to fill many of the 1600 positions that will be created by this project.”

On October 28, three of Maine’s leading environmental groups (Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), and Sierra Club Maine) filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Maine challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for its failure to rigorously assess the significant environmental impacts of CMP's corridor, as was done for similar projects in Vermont and New Hampshire.

The lawsuit challenges the Corps’ Environmental Assessment (EA) and “Finding of No Significant Impact,” which was completed on July 7, 2020, but not released to the public. The groups were only able to obtain a copy after they submitted a FOIA request seeking documents related to the Corps’ review. A formal permit has not yet been issued for the project.

The groups are asking the Court to dismiss the less rigorous EA and require the Corps to conduct an EIS that would fully assess the transmission line’s impact on the environment and communities of Western Maine, and objectively evaluate CMP’s unsubstantiated claims of climate benefits from the power corridor.

NRCM Staff Scientist Nick Bennett gave the following statement:

“The Corps’ have failed in their duty to rigorously and fairly evaluate the long-standing harm the CMP corridor would inflict on the woods, waters and communities of Western Maine. The lack of transparency and close coordination with CMP throughout the process is especially troubling for a project of this magnitude with no proven benefit to the climate. Maine people deserve better.”

Sandi Howard, Director of Say No to NECEC, released the following statement on the recent permit and related lawsuit filing of the Army Corps of Engineers permit for the CMP Corridor:

“The Army Corps decision to not thoroughly study the impact of CMP’s corridor followed by issuing a permit for the dirty energy project is dangerous. For reviews of similarly proposed hydropower projects in New Hampshire and Vermont, the Army Corps set precedent by conducting a comprehensive analysis, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), rather than the less stringent review of an Environmental Assessment on Maine’s destructive project. Maine’s environment deserves no less consideration than reviews in other states. Mainers overwhelmingly oppose this project because it’s bad for our environment and our economy. The full scope of this project’s environmental impacts has not been revealed by the Army Corps review process, which is why the story is not over about this permit as our allied partners filed a Federal lawsuit regarding the Army Corps review of this project because it’s clear that the corridor will have significant negative environmental impacts. While we are thankful that Representative Golden requested an EIS be completed by the Army Corps, we are frustrated that other bureaucrats in Augusta and Washington, D.C. seem to be choosing CMP over Mainers, whose voices deserve to be heard."

ABOUT THE NECEC PROJECT

The New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) is a $950 million investment that will deliver 1,200 megawatts of renewable hydropower to the New England energy grid in Lewiston, Maine. All of the costs will be paid for by Massachusetts electric customers. Once built, the NECEC will be New England’s largest source of renewable energy, representing a fundamental shift away from fossil fuels while simultaneously lowering energy costs in Maine and New England.

The 145-mile transmission line will be built on land owned or controlled by Central Maine Power. The 53 miles of new corridor on working forest land will use a new clearing technique of tapered vegetation; the remaining two-thirds of the project follows existing power lines created for the state’s hydroelectric industry almost a century ago.

The project will create more than 1,600 good-paying jobs during the two-and-a-half-year construction period and provide $200 million in upgrades to Maine’s energy grid, making Maine’s electricity service more reliable.  The NECEC will allow more producers of renewable energy in Maine to get their energy on the grid, and because the corridor project will use clean hydropower, it will reduce the use of fossil fuels, cutting three million metric tons of harmful emissions each year.

For more information about the New England Clean Energy Connect, click here.