Public comment on DEP's draft order for CMP Corridor from March 13 to March 27

This waterfall maybe in danger from the CMP corridor.  Photo by Ramona du Houx

By Ramona du Houx
 On March 13, 2020 the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today released a draft order for the permitting of Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect Project (NECEC).

Public comment on DEP's draft order for CMP Corridor from March 13 to March 27th.

To submit written comments on this draft order, please contact: Jim Beyer, Maine DEP, State House Station #17, Augusta, ME 04333. Email address is NECEC.DEP@maine.gov.

Central Maine Power Company (CMP) submitted permit applications to DEP for construction of the NECEC, an electric transmission line from the Quebec border in Beattie Township to a new converter station in Lewiston. The project also includes several upgrades to CMP’s existing electrical transmission network between Lewiston and Pownal, Windsor and Wiscasset and in Cumberland.  Approximately two-thirds of the 145-mile transmission line is proposed to be built along CMP’s existing transmission corridor.  

The remainder of the line would run through commercial timberland in western Somerset and Franklin counties.

This landscape along route 201 would change with the CMP corridor.

The information collected by DEP, including from the public, shows the project, as originally proposed by CMP, would have had substantial impacts, particularly in the 53.5-mile portion of the corridor that extends from the Quebec border to The Forks, known as Segment 1.  

The draft order requires the following:

  • Corridor Width: Originally proposed to be 150 feet, the order limits the cleared width of the new, Segment 1 corridor to 54 feet at its widest point, limiting visual and habitat impacts.
  • Wildlife Areas: In particularly vulnerable habitat areas covering approximately 14 miles along the 53.5 mile Segment 1 corridor, the order requires preservation of natural forest canopy or trees at least 35 feet tall across the corridor, protecting wildlife, wildlife movement, and rare plant species.
  • Deer Habitat: The order requires the conservation of more than 700 acres of deer wintering area and the preservation of soft wood deer travel corridors across the transmission corridor in an important deer wintering area along the Kennebec River.
  • Herbicide Use: Herbicide use is prohibited throughout Segment 1 of the corridor.

The draft order also requires natural resource compensation for the project’s remaining impacts, including:

  • Conservation: CMP is required to conserve 40,000 acres in western Maine permanently. The conserved lands may be open to commercial forestry utilizing sustainable harvesting practices.
  • Stream Crossing Improvements: CMP must set aside $1,875,000 for culvert replacement projects, which will enhance fish habitat by facilitating passage, reducing erosion, and improving water quality.

DEP is accepting written public comment on the draft order from March 13 to March 27.  Written comments must be submitted by close of business on Friday, March 27, 2020.  Before making a final decision, DEP will review and consider all written comments.  

For more detailed information, including a copy of the draft order and key supporting documents, visit Maine DEP’s website at https://www.maine.gov/dep/land/projects/necec/index.html.

Along the 201 senic byway the CMP corridor would run. Photo by Ramona du Houx