Vote no on corridor ballot initiative

By Scott Strom

Here in Maine, we are among the most petroleum-dependent states in the nation, and the most dependent in New England.

If only there was something we could do about it. 

Oh, here’s a wild thought. Perhaps we should curb our fossil fuel addiction with clean renewable energy sources like hydroelectricity and more solar and wind power. 

In the case of hydroelectricity, Maine has the unique opportunity to remove 3 million metric tons of carbon from the region every year – the equivalent of removing 700,000 cars from the road – by embracing the Clean Energy Corridor. 

The NECEC will bring clean, renewable hydropower directly into Maine homes at discounted rates, providing $140 million in direct rate relief and another $350 million in relief due to lower wholesale electricity costs over the next 15 years. 

The NECEC will protect Maine’s untouched forest with its small footprint; two-thirds of the corridor will run alongside existing transmission lines and the remaining 54 miles will be located in an area that has played host to timber harvesting for over a century. 

Best yet, the NECEC will create 1,600 good-paying jobs. In fact, 360 Mainers have already started working on the project in Somerset County at an average wage of $38 per hour plus benefits. 

Will the NECEC stop climate change? Not by itself. But it’s a vital first step. Along with wind and solar, hydropower holds the promise of a cleaner energy future. And Maine can lead the way. 

Little surprise three out-of-state fossil fuel companies are trying to stop carbon-free hydropower from coming into Maine homes. According to Bloomberg News, NextEra Inc. (Florida), Calpine Corp. (Texas), and Vistra Corp. (Texas) financed a petition drive to place an initiative on the November ballot to stop the NECEC. They even co-opted some so-called environmentalists to front for them. 

As for wind and solar? They are the unwitting victims of this overly broad ballot initiative. Big Oil was only trying to stop hydropower from coming into Maine but they’ll get an added bonus from the death of future wind and solar clean energy projects, as well. The November ballot initiative sets the bar so high for new clean energy projects in the future, Mainers will essentially be stuck with oil and gas forever if it passes. 

Mainers have a choice. 

You can side with No CMP Corridor and their fossil fuel funders, vote yes on this ballot initiative, pump more carbon into the air, make the planet hotter, and possibly less habitable for sea life.

Or you can take a meaningful step toward healing the planet by replacing some of the fossil fuels we use for energy with clean, renewable hydropower, solar, and wind.

Vote no on this ill-conceived ballot initiative in November.

Strom, R-Pittsfield is a former state representative.

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