To the Editor:
As public attention turns ever more soberly toward the challenge of global climate change, the urgency we all feel has a natural tendency to let the emotional overcome the rational. Yet, this same urgency demands that we instead harness our emotions to inspire a deeper commitment to act rationally.
Disappointingly, in her opinion column (published July 22), “Vote yes to save Maine,” Caratunk selectperson Elizabeth Caruso modeled for us the dangers of clouded judgment as concerns the Clean Energy Corridor. Upon close examination, almost every substantive claim of fact by Ms. Caruso involved decontextualized information, glaring omission or inaccuracy.
Without rebutting point by point, I write to make reference to the complete record of the years of transparent and public proceedings that led to full state and federal permitting of this groundbreaking clean energy project.
The Clean Energy Corridor is a proposed transmission line from the Quebec border to Lewiston, Maine. It will have the capacity to deliver 10.5 terawatt hours of clean hydroelectricity annually into the shared New England electricity grid. As a frame of reference, that amount of power could supply about 90 percent of Maine’s electric load. It’s a massive influx of clean and affordable power from a single project.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC), after 18 months of process, unanimously concluded that this project “will result in reductions in overall [greenhouse gas] emissions through corresponding reductions of fossil fuel generation (primarily natural gas) in the region.”
It has been the deliberate policy of states across the country, including Maine, to use market incentives to leverage private investment in the public interest: in this case, clean energy development. So it is dissonant to hear voices like Ms. Caruso’s when they disparage profit seeking by companies making massive investments in clean energy infrastructure.
As a direct participant in the process, Caruso knows that the PUC commissioned an independent analysis of this project. Three years ago, those analysts debunked the argument that Hydro-Québec would sell clean energy to New England but back fill with fossil fuel-fired energy in its other export markets. Their findings led the PUC to conclude “the generation imported into New England over the [Clean Energy Corridor] is likely to be incremental at least to a large degree, and not, in any significant way, be [sic] simply diverted from other markets.” This conclusion was later validated by independent analysis commissioned by the U.S. Dept. of Energy.
In his recent address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, President Joe Biden took a portion of this precious time to speak specifically about the “thousands of miles of transmission lines needed to build a resilient and fully clean grid.” I readily concede that transmission projects ask us to make some difficult choices.
But my head tells my heart that when we reject well-vetted solutions, the choices don’t get easier, they get harder.