Public hearing on CMP transmission corridor focuses on mitigating impacts

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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The Department of Environmental Protection and the Land Use Planning Commission held a public hearing at the Cross Center in Bangor.

Central Maine Power's proposed controversial 145-mile New England Clean Energy Connect Project was the subject of scrutiny.

"Today's focus is to take further evidence on how to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impacts the power line would have on habitat and forest fragmentation." said Sean Mahoney, executive vice president of the Conservation Law Foundation.

Several organizations weighed in on the effects the proposed 53 miles of new corridor would have.

Sue Ely, a staff attorney with the National Resources Council of Maine, attended. "We have brought experts in today to talk about the dramatic impacts that this project is going to have on vernal pool ecosystems, brook trout habitat, and the general habitat fragmentation impacts from the right of way."

"It's our position at the Conservation Law Foundation along with the Nature Conservancy that CMP can do much more to minimize the impacts that are associated with the existing route" said Mahoney.

Thorn Dickinson, Vice President of AVANGRID Networks, CMP's parent company, was optimistic about the overall impact to the environment.

"We're very confident that the project we've proposed is the best alternative for developing the project both as originally designed and as we've continued to modify the project as we improve it over time. This project is about the environment, it's about bringing greenhouse gas reductions to the whole region, something that's important for Mainers today and for their grandchildren."

But many expressed concern the corridor will cause significant damage to ecosystems.

"The list is long of the types of species and habitats that would be impacted by this corridor." said Ely. "The mitigation techniques that they've offered which is taller poles and some tapering really don't get to the heart of the matter which is that this is a globally significant forest, and this project would cut a 150 foot clearing through it."

The DEP is expected to make a decision this fall on the permit for CMP.