Battle in Maine woods shows obstacle for U.S. tidy power aspirations By Reuters

© Reuters. Workers set up the footing for a brand-new pole for transmission lines for the New England Clean Energy Connect job (likewise called the Clean Energy Corridor), which will bring hydroelectric power to the New England power grid, in Moscow, Maine, U.S., October 7, 2021. REUTERS/Brian Snyder


By Richard Valdmanis and Nichola Groom

BINGHAM, Maine (Reuters) – Evelyn and Bruce Beane like the wild nation that surrounds them in this small town on the Kennebec River, skirted by miles of mountains and forested by birch, maple and pine.

So when designers shown up here a couple of years ago asking their assistance for a power transmission job that would cut through neighboring woods to bring Canadian hydropower into New England, they stated no.

“This is where people come to get away from power lines,” stated Evelyn, 65, basing on the deck of the couple’s house as logging trucks, pickups, and hunters on ATVs passed along the roadway. “We don’t want it to turn into everywhere else.”

The Beanes were amongst the more than 230,000 Mainers who voted to decline the 145-mile (233 km) New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) job in a referendum today, bringing an obvious end to a years-long fight over the 1,200-megawatt line that had actually pitted tidy energy supporters versus residents looking for to protect the state’s forests.

The fate of the job – billed by its advocates as part of the service to environment modification – shows the problem dealt with by designers across the country in siting brand-new transmission lines, much more of which should be developed to update creaking grid systems and link distant renewable resource sources.

No one appears to desire the jobs to be sited anywhere near them.

“If this type of project can’t get through, good luck getting others through,” Dennis Arriola, CEO of energy services and shipment business Avangrid (NYSE:) Inc, which manages the job, stated in an interview previously this year.

That is an issue for the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, which has actually made improving the country’s electrical transmission systems a crucial element of its strategy to decarbonize the U.S. power sector by 2035. It has actually allocated billions of dollars for the effort in its White House facilities bundle being disputed by Congress.

Lots more cash might be required. Consultancy Marsh & McLennan has actually approximated more than 140,000 miles of transmission lines should be set up in the next 3 years to satisfy the country’s energy requirements, at an expense of about $700 billion.

But of the approximately 20 high-voltage transmission jobs now in advancement throughout the nation, numerous face siting obstacles. The $3 billion TransWest Express line to provide wind power from Wyoming to Las Vegas, for instance, is hung up in court after a land owner along its path got a federal preservation easement that might obstruct its building.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm stated the Biden administration knows the siting problems for transmission jobs and is taking a look at methods the federal government can get included. “There are an awful lot of lines that have been permitted and that just need that extra push to get over the finish line,” she informed press reporters on a teleconference from the international environment conference in Glasgow.

The Maine transmission passage was very first proposed in 2017 after a previous proposition through New Hampshire was obstructed by regional opposition. Avangrid has actually currently invested $400 million cleaning land and setting up poles for the Maine job after protecting federal and state authorizations.

Avangrid stated it would keep defending the job in spite of the election result, and promptly submitted a suit in a Maine court on Wednesday.


Bingham’s cluster of damaged wood houses, gasoline station and wilderness outfitters has actually been a center of opposition to the NECEC job for months, with much of the structures publishing indications opposing it in their backyards. One home hung plywood boards bring messages in spray paint: “Stop FOREIGN INTRUSION on AMERICAN SOIL,” and “Nothing clean about NECEC.”

The homegrown feel of the opposition belies the reality that business interests on both sides invested 10s of countless dollars on their projects, making it the most costly referendum fight in Maine history. U.S. power business NextEra Energy Inc (NYSE:), which has contending producing jobs in New England, was amongst the huge spenders looking for to sink the job.

Even so, regional belief runs deep.

Joe Dionne, 71, operated in the regional lumber market for 31 years and now operates in property. He stated he opposed the job due to the fact that he thought it would leave an irreversible scar in the landscape, hurting his company and dissuading wilderness tourist.

“They’re just going to flatten that land,” Dionne stated. “It doesn’t benefit us at all.”

Asked about whether such projects are needed to fight climate change, Dionne said: “Climate change is a load of B.S.”

The Beanes think in environment modification, however still have factors to oppose the transmission job.

Evelyn, a signed up nurse, stated the area has actually been a tranquil retreat from her chaotic more youthful life in New York City. And for Bruce, 70, a retired building employee, the unblemished landscape is a living link to his forefathers who showed up here prior to the American Revolution.

“We know green is important. But this isn’t the way,” stated Evelyn.


News and digital media editor, writer, and communications specialist. Passionate about social justice, equity, and wellness. Covering the news, viewing it differently.

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