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Lawmakers urge changes to power plan

Legislators are trying to overhaul Central Maine Power Co.'s $1.5 billion proposal to install high-capacity power lines throughout the state. One bill would force CMP to bury high-voltage lines near residential areas, schools, playgrounds, children's summer camps and child care facilities. Another would force public utilities, including CMP, to pay for independent appraisals of land they want to take by eminent domain. ...The project would affect about 4,000 abutters statewide. If approved, it is expected to take three to five years to complete.

Legislators are trying to overhaul Central Maine Power Co.'s $1.5 billion proposal to install high-capacity power lines throughout the state.

One bill would force CMP to bury high-voltage lines near residential areas, schools, playgrounds, children's summer camps and child care facilities. Another would force public utilities, including CMP, to pay for independent appraisals of land they want to take by eminent domain. The bill also would require that appraisal to factor in how taking a strip of land would affect the value of the remaining property.

It will be months before the Maine Public Utilities Commission votes on whether to allow CMP's proposal. Members of Lewiston's legislative delegation have signed a letter asking the PUC to alter the project, including moving some lines away from Lewiston homes.

Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, co-sponsored the bill to bury new high-voltage lines and signed the PUC letter from Lewiston's legislative delegation. She is drafting her own letter to the PUC, asking the commission to consider Maine's future when it looks at CMP's project.

"Obviously, PUC has the final say on this," Rotundo said, "but I think it's very... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Legislators are trying to overhaul Central Maine Power Co.'s $1.5 billion proposal to install high-capacity power lines throughout the state.

One bill would force CMP to bury high-voltage lines near residential areas, schools, playgrounds, children's summer camps and child care facilities. Another would force public utilities, including CMP, to pay for independent appraisals of land they want to take by eminent domain. The bill also would require that appraisal to factor in how taking a strip of land would affect the value of the remaining property.

It will be months before the Maine Public Utilities Commission votes on whether to allow CMP's proposal. Members of Lewiston's legislative delegation have signed a letter asking the PUC to alter the project, including moving some lines away from Lewiston homes.

Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, co-sponsored the bill to bury new high-voltage lines and signed the PUC letter from Lewiston's legislative delegation. She is drafting her own letter to the PUC, asking the commission to consider Maine's future when it looks at CMP's project.

"Obviously, PUC has the final say on this," Rotundo said, "but I think it's very important for the Legislature to say, 'Is this consistent with our goals for Maine's energy future?' And if not, they need to weigh in with the PUC."

Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, led the letter effort from Lewiston's legislative delegation and plans to draft one from the entire Androscoggin County delegation. She has heard from constituents and agrees with them that the high-voltage lines are dangerous and will lower property values. She also fears the high capacity lines will simply be used as a highway to run electricity out of state.

"I would like the high-powered lines to not exist at all because I believe, personally, that Maine is going to get very little value from this construction, that this is being constructed for out-of-state use, Connecticut, Rhode Island and whoever else is going to benefit," Craven said.

CMP has said Maine would benefit from the new lines.

It will take a while before legislators see any effect from their attempts to change CMP's proposal. The Utilities and Energy Committee has not scheduled a hearing on the bill to require high-capacity lines to be buried, and the eminent domain bill has not yet been sent to a committee.

CMP's Maine Power Reliability Program calls for upgrading a nearly 40-year-old swath of power lines. The lines start south in Eliot and pass through central Maine in Litchfield, Monmouth, Leeds, Greene, Lewiston and a corner of Auburn at the Durham line. They stop in Orrington, where they link to lines from Canada.

In some places, lines would be rebuilt or replaced. In other places, lines would be added, including 115,000-volt and 345,000-volt lines. The 345-kilovolt poles, not common in Maine, are wider than traditional power line towers and are, depending on location, 20 to 25 feet taller than the lower-voltage poles.

The project would affect about 4,000 abutters statewide. If approved, it is expected to take three to five years to complete.

CMP says it needs the lines to upgrade Maine's power system, deal with the state's growing electrical needs and head off reliability problems.

Opponents say the 345-kV lines buzz and emit an electromagnetic field that they fear could cause cancer, and abutters say the new lines will lower their property values. Lewiston-area residents have been particularly vocal about their dislike of the project and many have contacted their legislators.


Source: http://www.sunjournal.com/s...

FEB 13 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/19110-lawmakers-urge-changes-to-power-plan
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