Pittsfield puts on hold CMP code request

Posted March 31, 2009, at 8:41 p.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — After residents, town councilors and planning board members raised serious concerns about a Central Maine Power Co. expansion project and the health effects of electric and magnetic fields, the company’s application for a change to the town’s code was put on hold.

CMP is proposing the construction of 350 miles of transmission lines and infrastructure over the next three to five years. Part of this program is located in Pittsfield and involves work mostly within the existing power line corridor that bisects the town and extends for 9.5 miles from Detroit to Clinton.

The project includes rebuilding two existing 115-kilovolt lines and construction of a new 345-kilovolt line. Because the corridor will require expansion, several properties, including some homes, have been purchased by CMP.

But residents and town officials were adamant in their concerns about health risks and demanded answers from CMP representatives.

To help provide answers, CMP has scheduled a public informational meeting for 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, at Vickery School gymnasium.

Dr. William H. Bailey, the principal scientist and director for the New York office of Exponent Engineering and Scientific Consulting will make a presentation on EMF. According to CMP, Bailey is a “nationally and internationally known expert on electric and magnetic fields and has served as an adviser to numerous state, fed-eral and international agencies.”

Meanwhile, a public hearing has been set for Thursday before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee on a bill sponsored by Sen. Lisa Marrache, D-Kennebec County, to ensure that landowners get fair market value when they are forced to give up land for power lines.

LD 615, “An Act to Strengthen Landowner Rights in Certain Eminent Domain Situations,” will allow landowners to seek an independent appraiser approved by the owner and paid for by the utility. The appraiser will have to consider not just the value of the land taken, but the impact on the surrounding property.

“I realize the importance of new, more efficient power lines to the state, but they should be built with regard to the costs they impose on the landowners whose property is taken,” Marrache said in a prepared statement. “I just want to make sure that the people who have to host the power lines get a fair deal.”

The hearing on LD 615 will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 2, in Room 438 in the State House Building.

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