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PNS Daily Newscast - April 20, 2018 


The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

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Questioning Benefits of Power Transmission Proposal

The proposed power line would cut through 50 miles of forest, and cross 263 wetlands and 115 streams. (SnapStock/Pixabay)
The proposed power line would cut through 50 miles of forest, and cross 263 wetlands and 115 streams. (SnapStock/Pixabay)
March 29, 2018

AUGUSTA, Maine – Environmental groups are challenging an electric transmission line proposal that was rejected by New Hampshire and now has been shifted to a route through Maine.

The "New England Clean Energy Connect" project would carry power from Hydro-Quebec in Canada to Massachusetts. It replaces the Northern Pass proposal, which was rejected over concerns about environmental damage in the Granite State.

According to Dylan Voorhees, climate and energy policy director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the impact would be similar in Maine, including fragmenting wildlife habitat by cutting through 50 miles of undeveloped forest.

"The project would impact over 200 different wetlands; the project goes alongside conservation land," he says. "So, there's a significant set of impacts to the environment, to wildlife and to recreation."

The project developers claim it would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by supplying Massachusetts with clean, hydroelectric power.

But Voorhees points out that it isn't necessarily adding new, clean power to the grid. It may just shift existing supplies from one customer to another.

"That doesn't change the climate at all, it just means somebody else is buying that power," he notes. "So, we're concerned that there is no evidence to support the claim of a benefit to the climate."

He says there's also no assurance that hydroelectric power from Canada won't be replaced in the Canadian market by power plants burning fossil fuels.

Voorhees notes that there are better options. When the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources issued a request for proposals, it received 40 bids.

"Many of those projects are wind or solar projects that are located in New England, and those projects are easier to say they will actually benefit our climate because they're right here and they're part of our electricity grid," he explains.

He thinks Hydro-Quebec and Central Maine Power should be required to provide evidence of the total environmental impact of the project before any decision is made.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - ME