Welcome to Part 1 of our 5-part series covering a very controversial renewable energy project that got shut down in a public referendum in Maine despite previously getting approval from state and federal regulators.
While this energy was being purchased by the state of Massachusetts and generated by a hydropower company in Canada, it would require transmitting the energy through the state of Maine and thus in order to build out that transmission it needed Maine’s approval to move forward.
Supporters of this project call it the New England Clean Energy Connect. Opposition groups call it the CMP Corridor. Just the difference in naming alone tells you a lot about their respective viewpoints.
You’re going to hear throughout this series from folks on both sides of this particular initiative. But the reason we are covering it here at Animalia is not because we are taking our own stance on whether or not this project should move forward – we purposely leave that a bit open ended and we shall see how it plays out in the courts – but rather to use it as a lens into 3 larger issues playing out across the country as we grabble with figuring out how to shift from fossil fuel power generation to renewable generation.
In Episodes 2-4, we will cover each of those in detail.
In Episode 2, we will dive into the battle brewing between Environmental Activists & Clean Energy Advocates. All forms of energy, including renewables, have environmental trade-offs. Evaluating where and when they are worth taking is increasingly becoming complex and divisive, creating tension between environmental activists and clean energy advocates, despite both camps wanting to get off fossil fuels and save this planet.
In Episode 3, we will explore why the most critical decisions ahead in our transition off of fossil fuels are very much happening at the local level because of the land use and infrastructure needed for scaling renewable power generation. We can no longer just rely on regulatory approval, and need to increasingly engage the public and get their buy in sooner than later.
In Episode 4, we will look at how big energy companies around the country are using social media, marketing, and propaganda to stall clean energy projects. In all cases this is to protect their own business interests, be it fossil fuels or their own renewables. In the case of this project in Maine, there were big energy companies on both sides with renewable and fossil fuels interests when you roll things up to parent company levels. How and why did 3 big energy companies seemingly not involved get involved and support the opposition to help build the public pushback?
Then in Episode 5 we will do a recap with key takeaways.
Here are some reference materials to read up further on this story. Feel free to reach out with any quesitons!
Documentation of the State level regulatory hearing
Documentation of the Federal level regulatory hearing
Article questioning claims of those behind the project
Live radio debate between the NRCM and the NECEC
Some info on Northern Pass project that preceded this one