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Governor vetoes bills that target CMP transmission project

PORTLAND, Maine - Democratic Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday vetoed two bills aimed at creating obstacles for Central Maine Power’s proposed 145-mile (233-kilometre) transmission project in western Maine.

Mills called the proposals to give local governments the ability to block the project “poor public policy.” She said Wednesday the bills would give towns disproportionate power over a project with statewide benefits and would discourage private investment by upsetting established regulatory and permitting procedures.

The $1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect aims to bring Canadian hydropower to the New England power grid to help Massachusetts meet its clean energy goals. Massachusetts will fund the project.

Sandi Howard, director of Say NO to NECEC, accused the governor of siding with “foreign corporations” over “the will of Maine people.”

“As town, county, and state representatives learned more about the CMP corridor, they realized what a bad deal it is for Maine and rescinded support. Unfortunately, Governor Mills sided with foreign corporations that will make a huge profit,” she said.

Supporters say the project will reduce carbon pollution and lower energy prices in Maine.

The project calls for building a high-voltage power line from Beattie Township, Maine, on the Canadian border to the regional power grid in Lewiston, Maine.

Much of the project calls for widening existing corridors, but a new swath would be cut through a 50-mile segment of wilderness in western Maine. Central Maine Power already agreed to tunnel underneath the Kennebec River Gorge because of concerns raised by environmentalists.

Mills came out in support of the project after the power company sweetened the deal with $258 million in incentives that would boost the number of electric vehicle charging stations, subsidize heat pumps, improve rural high-speed internet, and help low-income ratepayers.
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