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  • Mainers strongly oppose CMP electric transmission corridor in statewide poll and votes

    Photo: Rep. Seth Berry opposes the CMP transmission plan. He says there is no guarentee that the energy Canada will export will be from clean energy sources. CMP is also under investagation for over charging Maine ratepayers.

    As DEP/LUPC public hearings begin, 65% of Mainers oppose the project

    March 20, 2019

    The vast majority of registered Maine voters are firmly opposed to Central Maine Power’s (CMP) proposed electricity corridor project, according to a new statewide poll conducted by the Portland-based research firm Critical Insights. 

    The survey shows that 65% of Mainers oppose the project, with only 15% expressing support.  Fifty-one percent (51%) of respondents “strongly oppose,” while only 7% “strongly support.” Every demographic subgroup in Maine opposes the project, including Republicans, Democrats, and Independents; men and women; Mainers of all ages; and voters in every part of the state.

    “This survey shows that Maine people overwhelmingly oppose the CMP corridor. By huge margins, they believe it is a bad deal for Maine and will cause more harm than good to our environment. Opposition is red hot in western Maine, where barely one in ten people supports the project,” said Pete Didisheim, Advocacy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, which sponsored the poll.

    The survey included an oversample of voters in western Maine, where the project would cut a new 53-mile corridor through forestlands in that region: 

    • 90% of voters in Franklin County oppose the project, with 80% “strongly opposed” and only 6% in support.
    • 83% of voters in Somerset County oppose the project, with 75% “strongly opposed” and only 9% in support.

    This is the most detailed survey publicly released about the attitudes of Maine people toward the CMP corridor, and it comes as the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) begin a week of hearings on the project in Farmington. The survey also comes on the heels of a memo from staff at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recommending that the PUC grant a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the project. Additional permitting in Maine and Massachusetts will continue well into the summer. 

    The survey of 850 Maine residents took place between March 11 and March 27, several weeks after Maine Governor Janet Mills, CMP, and other parties announced a settlement agreement. The statewide survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

    Summary of Survey Findings:

    The survey shows a very high level of awareness of the project, with 89% saying that they had seen, read, or heard about CMP’s plan to build the power line. The data showing statewide opposition outpacing support by 65% to 15%, with 20% unsure or having no opinion, came in response to a “top of mind” question with no positive or negative information provided about the project. This indicates that Mainers have strong opinions on the issue.

    Based on everything you may know about the proposed CMP corridor, would you support or oppose its construction?

    PHOTO: THIS VIEW WOULD BE MARED WITH ELECTRIC TRANSMISSION LINES IF CMP DEAL BECOMES REAL.

    When asked which statement comes closest to your view, Mainers responded as following: 

    • 72% statewide say the CMP corridor would be a bad deal for Maine people
      • 88% in Franklin County feel this way, and 85% in Somerset County
    • 27% statewide say the CMP corridor would be a good deal for Maine people
      • 5% in Franklin County feel this way, and 10% in Somerset County
    • 68% statewide say the CMP corridor would do more harm than good to our environment
      • 87% in Franklin County feel this way, and 70% in Somerset County
    • 16% statewide say the CMP corridor would do more good than harm to our environment
      • 8% in Franklin County feel this way, and 18% in Somerset County

    Mainers also expressed support for several proposed bills that are pending in the Maine Legislature that could affect the CMP corridor.

    • 65% support passage of a bill that would require the DEP to conduct an independent review of the CMP corridor before a permit is granted, to determine whether the project would actually benefit the climate by reducing greenhouse gas pollution, as CMP claims. (as called for in LD 640)
    • 62% support passage of a bill that would prevent CMP from forcing towns to accept the transmission line passing through their town. (as called for in LD 1383)

    Only one in ten Mainers think the governor should support the proposed CMP transmission line, compared to half who believe the governor should oppose the project. A full 70% of Mainers believe the governor should oppose the CMP corridor or take no position. 

    Do you believe the governor of Maine should support the CMP transmission corridor, oppose the CMP transmission corridor, or take no position on the CMP corridor?

     

    The survey results are consistent with recent votes by towns in western Maine to oppose the project. To date, 11 towns and the Franklin County Commissioners have voted to oppose or rescind their support for the project.

    • Most recently, on March 25, Farmington residents voted 262-102 to rescind their support and adopt a new position in opposition.
    • On March 5, residents of Wilton voted 162-1 to rescind support and adopt a position of opposition to the project.  

    The level of opposition in Maine is striking when compared to the public sentiment in New Hampshire for a similar project called the Northern Pass. That project was ultimately rejected by regulators, and opposition over many years hovered between 30% and 40%. At no point did opposition in New Hampshire to the Northern Pass project reach the level of 65% opposition currently held by Maine voters.

    The survey was conducted by telephone between March 11 and March 27, 2019. Among the 850 respondents surveyed, a total of 299 are residents of Franklin County (124 respondents) or Somerset County (175 respondents). Respondents were required to live in Maine and be registered to vote in the state. Final data were statistically weighted to reflect the age, gender, and county populations of the state.