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Battle lines clearly have been drawn over Central Maine Power Co.'s $950 million New England Clean Energy Connect project that earlier this year won a joint bid with Hydro-Quebec to deliver deliver 1,200 megawatts of renewable power to Massachusetts for at least 20 years. A key sticking point is the 145-mile transmission line that would have to be built in western Maine linking electricity grids in Quebec with the CMP's existing grid via a new AC/DC converter station in Lewiston. Opponents say the project would harm wildlife habitat and western Maine's natural beauty and would primarily benefit Massachusett's electricity customers and CMP's parent company Avangrid. A report commissioned by the Maine Renewable Energy Association, Natural Resources Council of Maine and Sierra Club asserted the project would not reduce carbon pollution but would enable Hydro-Quebec to profit from “'green-washing' dirty, fossil-fuel power” while discouraging development of new renewable energy generation in Maine. Proponents, including a group of business and labor leaders calling itself "Mainers for Clean Energy Jobs," say the project would save Maine ratepayers approximately $40 million per year for 20 years, provide $88 million in property tax revenues for towns along the transmission corridor, create 1,700 construction-related jobs annually through 2022 and 3,500 jobs at peak construction. The project is now being reviewed by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and Maine Land Use Planning Commission.
Is CMP’s proposed $950 million New England Clean Energy Connect project a good deal for Maine?