The Public Utilities Commission continues its proceeding for the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) project. A decision is expected sometime around year-end. You still have time to comment in Maine and in Massachusetts.
On August 15 the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities will hold a public hearing. Written comments may be submitted to: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Maine, the Public Utilities Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing later this year, TBA. You may submit your comment now by clicking here.
FMM is an intervenor in the case and it remains opposed to Massachusetts energy projects that should be sited in Massachusetts instead of Maine. FMM is on record stating that it could support the New England Clean Energy Connect under three conditions:
1. That the corridor will host only the High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Transmission line with no opportunity to "on-ramp" future Maine wind projects along the route.
2. That no expansion of the corridor for Alternating Current (AC) transmission be allowed (which could accommodate future Maine wind projects).
3. That Massachusetts agrees to allow critical pipeline infrastructure that protects Maine/New England ratepayers from exorbitant peak pricing.
FMM has publicly criticized certain environmental groups like the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) because those groups have simply said NO to the NECEC (and previously to the Northern Pass in New Hampshire) while saying YES to every wind project to-date in the ten years since the heinous Expedited Wind Law was unanimously enacted under the cover of darkness in the Maine Legislature. They have repeatedly and dutifully said YES to Big Wind despite the miniscule potential for reducing emissions or any other material benefit. Amazingly, neither group uttered a peep when the legislature raised the speed limit to 75 MPH, even though in Maine TRANSPORTATION is responsible for SIX TIMES more CO2 than ELECTRICITY.
Where are their priorities?
Both so-called "environmental" stewards have done much good over the decades, but both are on record in this case opposing the NECEC in part because they would prefer to see Maine's mountains destroyed with thousands of wind turbines. Their lack of critical thinking is confounding.
Sure, it feels good to add wind and solar to our mix. But the base load and peak load plants that have been and will be closing in New England cannot and will not be replaced (or even displaced) by wind and solar, neither of which provide grid-dispatchability. Moreover, CLF and NRCM decry the devastation caused by one swath of 120' tall power lines, while they're uncompromisingly complicit with thousands (yes thousands) of wind turbines towering, thumping and blinking 500 feet above the ridges of Maine's North Woods.
Yes the power line has an impact, but these opponents apparently don't calculate impact vs benefit. It seems that they just want what feels good.
FMM's position is if Bay State politicians want to bow to CLF's lobbyists and they decide to mandate feel-good electricity, they should also mandate that it be located in Massachusetts. If there isn't room for it there, then these HVDC lines are the next best option.
Electricity does not and will not be confined by borders. So which electricity do we choose?
Some mathematical perspective: Either project -- the Northern Pass or the New England Clean Energy Connect -- would provide roughly the equivalent power that the Seabrook (zero emission) nuclear plant provides. But we've evidently ruled out nukes, so what then?
Feel-good wind all over Maine. But at what cost?
Let's look at the largest wind projects in New England: Kibby and Bingham. The sprawling Kibby Wind project sailed through the permitting process with minor opposition despite its massive impact on huge Maine wildlands. FMM was the ONLY opponent to the Bingham Wind Project, which planted 500' tall turbines at high elevation/visibility over a 16 mile stretch AND many more miles of power lines all the way to Parkman. Both of these “clean energy” wind projects harm water and wildlife over thousands of acres and they violate the scenic experience along pretty much all of Maine’s 280 miles of Appalachian Trail, not merely 200 yards across the Kennebec gorge.
Where were CLF, NRCM and their allies when Bingham and Kibby were built for Massachusetts utilities? They weren't on the sidelines, no. They were among the strongest cheerleaders!
So what did they get for selling out Maine?
Despite the massive negative impacts of these two wind projects, they don't move the needle on the grid, especially when the power is needed. At 185 MegaWatts nameplate, performing at a generous 30% capacity factor, it would require 20 Bingham projects to (unpredictably) equal the MegaWattHours provided by either NECEC or Northern Pass. It would take 30 Kibby projects or 100 Mars Hill projects.
What would be left of the greatest outdoor experience east of the Mississippi?
Where would CLF and NRCM choose to erect those thousands of flashing-thumping skyscrapers, the connecting transmission lines, AND the expensive/dirty capacity power plants that would still be required to make the wind turbines useful for the New England grid?
If you agree with FMM that Massachusetts should not be desecrating Maine's unique Quality of Place...
If you agree that feel-good advocates like CLF and NRCM should think more critically about essential energy infrastructure decisions...
If you agree that that the New England grid needs reliable/dispatchable/clean electricity...
And if you agree that wind energy is an unsustainable alternative, and a disaster for Maine...
Do it today, while the Maine Brand is still salvageable.