Maine regulators’ staff endorses $1 billion CMP corridor plan

In this June 22, 2010 file photo, the Jean-Lesage hydro electric dam generates power along the Manicouagan River north of Baie-Comeau, Quebec. A proposed transmission line across western Maine to serve as a conduit for Canadian hydropower is “in the best interest” of state electricity customers thanks to incentives negotiated with Central Maine Power, the state’s public advocate said on Thursday, March 7, 2019.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The staff of Maine’s utilities regulatory commission recommended on Friday that Central Maine Power’s controversial $1 billion proposal to deliver Quebec hydropower to Massachusetts through a western Maine corridor be approved.

It is the biggest milestone so far for the project that has been in the works for more than a year and drew support from Gov. Janet Mills in February after parties inked a 40-year benefits package worth $250 million. However, the Legislature is considering bills to slow or neuter it.

The three-member Maine Public Utilities Commission is scheduled to vote on the proposal in April. In a report released Friday evening, the commission’s staff said the project is in the public interest and should go forward, saying the benefits package augments the corridor while only being worth between $72 million and $85 million in today’s dollars because of inflation.

John Carroll, a CMP spokesman, said in a statement that the report “squarely addresses the questions that have been raised in the course of this proceeding,” and “confirms that the project will provide environmental and economic benefits for Maine.”

Next month’s vote will come amid fervid grassroots opposition in western Maine and during the further permitting processes that are required. Mills’ hometown of Farmington voted against it overwhelmingly last week, joining eight other towns in opposing it and almost all of the more than 1,300 public comments filed with the commission on…

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