New England Clean Energy Connect: The myths and the facts
Claim: The New England Clean Energy Connect corridor will be 145 miles long and as wide as the New Jersey Turnpike; the pylons will be 300 feet tall with flashing lights.
Fact: The new corridor will be 53 miles long and 150 feet wide, half that of the New Jersey Turnpike at its narrowest point; pylons will be 65 to 100 feet high with no lights.
Claim: Decarbonization of the Maine and regional power grid can be achieved through alternative energy sources.
Fact: No realistic strategy exists to decarbonize Maine or New England using solar, wind and battery storage sources alone. Timely decarbonization cannot be achieved without the addition of further hydropower to New England’s base-load mix. (Source: “Fully Decarbonizing the New England Electric System: Implications for New Reservoir Hydro,” prepared by Bruce Phillips of the NorthBridge Group at the request of Central Maine Power and released Jan. 31.)
Claim: Herbicides used by Central Maine Power will poison every well and stream in the vicinity of NECEC.
Fact: CMP employs integrated vegetation management throughout its corridors, and all treatments are applied by hand. Herbicides will not be applied where there is critical habitat. When complete, the corridor will return to a low-growing mix of plants and shrubs that provide shelter and food for animals, birds, and insects.
Claim: The corridor will ruin the visitor experience and inhibit a stronger recreation and tourism economy in western Maine.
Fact: No evidence for this exists. The line will occupy fewer than 1,000 acres, less than 5 percent of one township, and will leave millions of acres in western Maine available for public access and recreation. In the case of snowmobiling, NECEC will add considerable length to the east-west corridor.
Claim: Maine’s woods are “our woods.”
Fact: These lands have long been mostly privately owned and actively managed, as evidenced by the network of woods roads we all use to our advantage. Even after NECEC, there will remain more beautiful scenery than anyone can enjoy in a Maine lifetime.
Claim: NECEC will benefit only Massachusetts; Maine will get nothing.
Because of the NECEC settlement agreement, Maine will enjoy several hundred million dollars in shared benefits at no dollar cost. There will be $200 million in grid investment; local property-tax and electric rate relief; investment in rural broadband, electric vehicles and heat pumps; 3,500 new jobs at peak construction, and new educational opportunities across the region.
Claim: NECEC will fragment a continuous forest ecosystem, with severe, negative impacts to wildlife.
Fact: The real fragmentation across this landscape consists of the thousands of miles of unvegetated woods roads; routes 16, 27 and 201, and natural features like rivers and lakes that most species do not cross.
Claim: NECEC poses an existential threat to the region’s brook trout.
Fact: Brook trout streams will be buffered to ensure shading. Climate change is the real, existential threat to Maine’s cold-water fisheries, not NECEC.