The Maine line

Source: BY MATTHEW CHOI, Politico • Posted: Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Maine voters go to the polls today to vote on a new transmission project that would bring enough electricity from Canadian hydro to power 1.2 million homes. The project has the backing of Gov. Janet Mills and the Biden administration, with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm urging voters to support the project on Twitter.

But the new connection is also garnering resistance from two sides that are normally at odds with each other: environmentalists and natural gas plant operators. Green groups fear the project would cause major damage to the state’s forest lands, with a new 54-foot wide corridor in need of being cut through 53 miles of woodland. Existing transmission would also need to be widened by 75 feet. Twenty five towns along the new transmission have voiced opposition to the project. Meanwhile, energy companies NextEra, Vistra and Calpine all oppose the project over the potential competitive pricing from Canadian power.

It has been a fraught fight, as Pro’s Jordan Wolman writes, not only uniting disparate interests but also raising concerns over foreign interference in the state’s elections, with groups spending tens of millions of dollars to sway voters either for or against the proposed lines.

“This should have never been a ballot referendum,” state Sen. Trey Stewart told Pro’s Jordan Wolman. “What it’s going to boil down to is people going in based off 30 second ads that they’ve seen blowing up their TVs and their radios and their mailbox for the last few months, and they’re going to vote one way or the other.”