AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills is standing firm in her support of the controversial CMP power transmission corridor expansion, despite her own hometown voting against it Monday night.
Farmington originally supported the project. After the town meeting, however, the ballot was 262 to 102 in opposition to the NECEC corridor.
"I didn't expect to win the issue," Gov. Mills said. "But I wanted to generate some more information, and it was a pleasure to do that in my hometown among friends."
The project would upgrade the existing power corridor north of Lewiston and then extend it through the north woods west of "the forks" and into Quebec.
Power made by hydro-Quebec dams would then go directly to Massachusetts as part of that state's aim to reduce its carbon footprint.
Gov. Mills is backing the project because she says it will benefit Maine, by lowering CO-2 emissions from Massachusetts. She also says there are the hundreds of millions of dollars in payments from CMP over the next 40 years.
But after Monday night's meeting, it's clear many people are having a change of heart. Now the question is, if more towns pull their support, will it be enough to sway the upcoming Public Utilities Commission vote?
"We won't get any benefits out of this, and we all know it in our hearts," one Farmington resident said at the meeting.
The main concern: 248 million dollars over 40 years doesn't cut it, especially at the cost to the environment.
Those environmental concerns are well-known to CMP's President and CEO Doug Herling -- but he says those who oppose the plan must not have all the facts.
"To me, you are either for the environment and clean energy, and if you're not behind this project you must be for big oil and pollution and heavy CO-2 emissions," Herling said.
Even without her hometown's support, Mills says she plans to keep the conversation going right up until the final vote by the PUC. Public hearings are set to begin next week.