CMP corridor opponents launch citizen's initiative

Sep 03, 2019

Opponents of Central Maine Power's transmission corridor have filed an application with the secretary of state to launch a statewide ballot initiative to stop the controversial project.

Tom Saviello, the citizen initiator of the effort, turned in bill language that would revoke the project's unpopular permit approval from Maine's top energy regulator, the Public Utilities Commission. Revoking this permit, called a certificate of public convenience and necessity, would reflect the wishes of the majority of Mainers, who do not want the corridor to be built, according to a press release issued Sept. 3.

"CMP's corridor has drawn strong opposition from most Mainers," Saviello said. "Allowing Mainers to vote to block this project is only fair. We have to consider that nearly 25 towns have already voted to oppose the project, polling shows overwhelming opposition to the project, and CMP's awful scandals continue to get worse. Add to that the fact that Augusta has failed to listen to the clear voice of the people, and it's time for Mainers to take this matter into their own hands. We began the citizen's initiative process so this project will get stopped in its tracks. Western Maine is too valuable to destroy."

Saviello is a former state representative and state senator from Franklin County, an area that would be heavily affected by CMP's corridor.

Sandra Howard, the director of Say NO to NECEC, will join Saviello in heading up the effort. Say NO to NECEC is a large grassroots organization that formed in opposition to the corridor.

"This corridor is bad for just about everyone," Howard said. "It's only good for a very select few. Augusta politicians and the state agencies who are supposed to protect Maine have failed, so we have to take this effort into our own hands. The citizen's initiative process is an enormous undertaking, but we have more than 20 thousand motivated Mainers who have signed up to help. They've called legislators, lobbied their elected officials, shown up at town meetings, and have even weighed in with Maine's energy and environmental regulators. The work they've done so far is already the broadest and most impressive exercise in direct democracy this state has seen in the modern era, and we know that Mainers are ready to get to work on this next step.

"We also know that CMP will use every legal trick, every lobbyist they can buy, and all of their influence in Augusta to push for their billion-dollar project, all while neglecting and overcharging their customers," she said. "This corridor is bad for Maine, and we don't trust CMP to build it."

The draft language will be considered by the Secretary of State's Office in the coming days. Once the secretary of state clears the language, corridor opponents will use their volunteer network to begin collecting petition signatures from Mainers. See draft language below.

An Act to Reject the New England Clean Energy Connect Transmission Project

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1. Amend Order. Within 30 days of the effective date of this legislation and pursuant to its authority under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 35-A, section 1321, the Public Utilities Commission shall amend the “Order Granting Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and Approving Stipulation” entered by the Public Utilities Commission on May 3, 2019 in Docket No. 2017‑00232 for the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission project. The amended order shall find that the construction and operation of the NECEC transmission project is not in the public interest that there is not a public need for the NECEC transmission project. There not being a public need, the amended order shall deny the request for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the NECEC transmission project.

For more information, contact Sandi Howard, director of Say NO to NECEC, 603-475-4566; or Tom Saviello, former Franklin County senator, 207-240-5496.

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