N.E. Clean Power Connect in Maine - Should we care ?

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peakbagger

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Now that Northern Pass seems to be on indefinite hold, should the hiking public care about the proposed transmission line in Western Maine?.

https://www.necleanenergyconnect.org/

I have not seen any detailed maps of the route, but it looks like it stays north and east of the so called "six pack" of 100 highest summits. It also stays north of the Kibby Wind farm. It appears to go east towards the Kennebec crossing at the "The Forks" and then south via existing widened right of ways. It does cross the AT apparently at an existing widened right of way and also crosses the Dead River whitewater rafting run. It does look like it does cross some mountains that most likely are on some list. Reportedly its abut 40 miles of new right of way.

There have been recent editorials against it in the Maine papers but they tend to be from the usual groups that participate as intervenors in major projects to extract mitigation from the developer for impact. CMP owned by Avangrid, claims to have already purchased a right of way for the proposed line so the "checkergame" played by Northern Pass in northern NH should not occur. Maine does not have an SEC process and the state of Maine DEP is somewhat stacked with the governors supporters so I expect there will be less pushback. CMP did a billion dollar power line upgrade a few years back that seemed to generate little publicity so I expect approval will be easier.
 
Concerning the new right of way needing to be built, some time ago I took a map and overlaid it into Google Earth to get a sense of where it would end up. Basically, it's skirting a bunch of 3k's, but I was able to just now find the detailed maps here:

From what I can gather, it's only a glancing effect on a bunch of 3k's, most of which, if not all, are trail-less. A rough description would be that it enters Maine just north of Moose Hill/Van Dyke, goes between Moose and Smart, then north of Peaked, Leroy Peak and Tumbledown, south of No. 6 Mtn (south peak, or Crispo Peak if you prefer :) ), turns south around a couple miles west of 201 going east of the Coburn Peaks, crosses 201 around Capital Rd., east and then south down to the north shore of Moxie Pond where it meets up with the existing way.

I uploaded an GE file using the latest maps at this location if anyone is curious.
 
Looks like opposition to the project is getting organized and national support

https://www.centralmaine.com/2018/0...ral-maine-power-project-a-bad-deal-for-maine/

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/06/06/patagonia-takes-aim-at-cmp-transmission-project/

The pushback is coming from two directions, environment/wilderness issues and financial. The environmental/development aspect is pretty standard. The financial is bit more complex, the state is asking what they are getting paid to host it. The competing projects in VT and even Northern Pass offered to shovel large amounts of cash to the host states and the Maine project is decidedly lacking in that aspect.
 
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Patagonia came out against the Maine route since it crosses the gorge on the Kennebec. It's probably the narrowest spot of the river to cross. I would prefer that part of the whitewater rafting route to remain unspoilt and place the crossing down closer to The Forks. It's pretty slack water down there, but the river is wider.
 
Patagonia came out against the Maine route since it crosses the gorge on the Kennebec. It's probably the narrowest spot of the river to cross. I would prefer that part of the whitewater rafting route to remain unspoilt and place the crossing down closer to The Forks. It's pretty slack water down there, but the river is wider.

The rafting industry only exists because of a hydro dam. Folks getting bent on seeing power lines in a place that depends on electrical infrastructure beyond simply supplying power to the region to support their economy seems a little... disingenuous? Inconsistent? The huge concrete structure you enter the water at is ok but a wire crossing the river is too far? Am I way off here?
 
The Kennebec River gorge is a convenient rallying point for opposition and coincidentally as a sign that the developer is trying to reduce the cost of the project versus minimizing its impact. Sounds a bit familiar with the early NP alignment ;). The project developer has admitted they could go with a more costly underground option where they would bore under the river. Their public claim is they would rather use the money for public mitigation. I wonder if they are in the same situation that NP was in that if they go underground anywhere along the length of the project they end up having to derate the entire project due to limitations with underground HVDC lines?
 
Patagonia came out against the Maine route since it crosses the gorge on the Kennebec. It's probably the narrowest spot of the river to cross. I would prefer that part of the whitewater rafting route to remain unspoilt and place the crossing down closer to The Forks. It's pretty slack water down there, but the river is wider.

I get your point, but when I've gone through Big Mama and Whitewasher, I feel like I'm not really focused on much above. I wonder if they'd cross by the dam given that's where the current ROW runs.

The rafting industry only exists because of a hydro dam. Folks getting bent on seeing power lines in a place that depends on electrical infrastructure beyond simply supplying power to the region to support their economy seems a little... disingenuous? Inconsistent? The huge concrete structure you enter the water at is ok but a wire crossing the river is too far? Am I way off here?

If you're off, at least you're not alone. I think it's either disingenuous or obtuse.
 
If the dam were not there, one could still raft down the gorge. The dam, with consistant releases, just makes it plannable, predictable. I wonder if the Alleyway could be canoeable without the dam?

There is something like two hours of float time, after the rapids, if you take out at the Forks. Plenty of time to admire nature and comment on ugly transmission towers and wires.

Why not run the lines above Harris Station? Are they trying to keep the powerline as straight as possible?
 
Moosehead and Flagstaff are very large reservoirs dam controlled. They effectively shift winter snow pack into summer flow. If the river was wild with no up stream storage, there would be no recreational raft industry as I expect summer time flows would be very low. The only real wild river in Maine is the Upper Saint John. Its only runnable for a few weeks in the spring. Even the Allagash gets bony in the summer and it is getting water from upstream dams. I don't follow the history of the Kennebec but do have some interest in the Androscoggin and the early history pre dams were that there were vast floodplains along the river that would flood heavily most springs and then the river flow would drop down substantially to a relative "trickle" during summer until the fall rains.

The reality is that there are no whitewater rafting rivers in Maine that aren't highly dependent on upstream dams and recreational releases. The current administration in Maine elected not to act as intervener on several of the large hydro dam licenses which has ceded a lot more control back to the dam owners. Things folks take for granted like recreational releases and discharge limits to reduce impacts to wildlife and camp owners are no longer going to be required as the state no longer has any direct control for another 40 years until the licenses come up.
 
Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron
The rafting industry only exists because of a hydro dam. Folks getting bent on seeing power lines in a place that depends on electrical infrastructure beyond simply supplying power to the region to support their economy seems a little... disingenuous? Inconsistent? The huge concrete structure you enter the water at is ok but a wire crossing the river is too far? Am I way off here?

I couldn't agree more. Look at the satellite view of the Kennebec Gorge area. That area is working forest, trees harvested to within a couple hundred feet of the river and two separate power line rights of way running parallel to the river from the Harris Dam. The incremental impact of the wires crossing the river in this area is a non-issue imo.
 
Having spent a week on the Allagash, it was pretty easy to forget about the structure at Churchill Dam where we put in. The three hour ride from the outfitter went down miles of logging roads, most through areas not being currently logged but we did see a couple of wide open areas that had been recently cut. I am more of a hiker then paddler and I was more comcerned on the logging. That said, Maine is a large place, when compared with CT, and overall, I am sure it was a small amount of forest.

IMO, having it cross at a dam would seem to make more sense.

Oddly out west, the dams are the tourist attraction, although I guess some of the environmentalist would prefer seeing them all removed. (I just don't frequent a wild CO river website) Out west, you'd lose cities, farming and much more recreation then we would lose by removing man made structures here.
 
From rumors and third hand accounts, the Maine proposal has a very good chance of succeding. CMP has already greased the palms of many small towns to get it approved. The only major sticking point was Kennebec gorge and CMP capitulated fairly quickly and agreed to bury it. The corridor would also make a right of way possible for motorized recreation. It's kind of an "eh, so what" issue.
 
I agree its likely to go, the opposition started slow and wasn't as well organized. What goes in on that area of Maine is out of sight out of mind. The only potential issue is Governor LePage is gone soon and Janet Mills is the new governor who lives in Farmington. She may not want to get in the way but will make sure there are no shortcuts.
 
Well looks like the new governor and a couple of key conservation groups (NRCM and CLF) have gotten behind the project so expect the project will get approval. Still some opposition but expect they will not be able to stop the steam roller. I expect the folks from Northern Pass are somewhat disappointed as if this project was stopped NP would be in bigger demand.
 
More MWs

Well looks like the new governor and a couple of key conservation groups (NRCM and CLF) have gotten behind the project so expect the project will get approval. Still some opposition but expect they will not be able to stop the steam roller. I expect the folks from Northern Pass are somewhat disappointed as if this project was stopped NP would be in bigger demand.

But wouldn't 2,000 MW or 3,000 MW of renewable energy be better than 1,000 MW? I hope all three of the projects proposed for NE get built. Iceland, Norway, and Costa Rica are the only countries that have achieved an almost 100% level of renewable energy, and all rely heavily on hydroelectric generation.
 
The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) gave thumbs up to the project. Unlike NH, there is no Site Evaluation Commitee (SEC) in Maine. The Maine LURP who is administrator of the Maine Public land (where the vast majority of the transmission runs through) has to issue a permit. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) also has to issue an environmental permit. There are also a couple of federal permits that are expected to be approved. The new Maine governor came about in support of the project. She has replaced or will be replacing many of the department heads and expect that although there will be political theater for the environmental permitting, that the permits will get issued. The LURP is also not expected to be a major issue. A few of the key environmental groups have been bought off but there are few others groups and lots of individuals who oppose the project.

This is a huge short term economic boost in that part of the state. There was a major east west transmission line project in the state (that make this project possible) a few years ago and I expect many of the firms and workers will be in line to support this project. Unlike the proposed Northern Pass which was planning to use out of state skilled workers from outside the region, the prior east west transmission line in Maine developed a lot of skilled workers in the state so more of the short term benefits will flow into Maine residents pockets.
 
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