By Ramona du Houx
May 4, 2021
A bill introduced on May 4, 2021, by Rep. Scott Landry, D-Farmington, before the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee on Tuesday would give towns more say in projects like the controversial CMP corridor.
Maine people living throughout the state have been in shock by the bulldozing methods of CMP and the lack of the ability of local oversight. They have complained about the methods CMP has deployed to promote their corridor as well as how the measure has been steamrolled through important legal processes. This includes Congressman Jerald Golden who officially wants the Corps of Engineers to review their process in the matter.
Under current law, transmission line construction by public utilities can by exempted by state regulators from town-level ordinances when “reasonably necessary for public welfare and convenience.”
Landry’s proposal would clarify that transmission lines that do not significantly contribute to the state’s power grid, like the CMP corridor, are nonessential and therefore subject to municipal ordinances.
“The CMP corridor is not for the benefit of the state as a whole or of any of the towns it would pass through, including the towns I represent,” said Landry. “Projects like this should be subject to local oversight just like any other for-profit development project would be.”
LD 1587 would also require related rule-making to include legislative oversight and deliberation.
“In Maine, local town government is truly democratic. Citizens enact these ordinances for good reasons,” Elizabeth Caruso, chair of the Caratunk Board of Selectmen, told the committee. “The Caratunk Planning Board members have repeatedly expressed their concern that their hard work would be futile if a [Public Utilities Commission] exemption eradicates the town ordinance and the will of the voters. For what? Not for Maine ratepayers’ benefits, but for the profits of corporations and their shareholders.”
The Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee will hold a work session on the proposal in the coming weeks. At that time, committee members will have the opportunity to offer amendments before voting on a recommendation to the full Legislature.
Landry is serving his second term in the Maine House and represents both Farmington and New Sharon. He serves as House chair of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and as a member of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee.