A top legislative critic of Central Maine Power has rolled out a bipartisan bill aimed at killing the utility’s $1 billion transmission line. The Legislature is a new battleground for the corridor project that would take Quebec hydropower to Massachusetts via western Maine. The utilities commission is set to field a key report from staff on it next month, but the project backed by Mills is suffering from a lack of local support in her home area in Franklin County, where county commissioners and the town of Wilton rescinded support for it this month. Farmington residents will hold a vote on the issue at their Monday town meeting.
An emergency bill introduced today by Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, would neuter the project in one key way: It would make every town along the corridor’s path accept it by referendum, while also making the commission find “tangible public benefits” before approving it and delaying any final decision on it until at least the late summer.
Berry, the co-chair of the Legislature’s energy committee, is a bit of a CMP provocateur, having introduced a bill to kick off a public takeover of the state’s major utilities. But his bill is backed by four Democrats and four Republicans, including Sen. Brad Farrin, R-Norridgewock. It may see support across the political spectrum and force the Legislature’s first showdown with Mills.