Portland, MAINE -- Governor Janet Mills released the following statement in response to the announcement of a signed Stipulation regarding the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) proposal:
“Last night thousands of Maine households turned up their thermostats to keep their families warm as the wind and snow came upon us around midnight. At $2.90 a gallon, most of those households spent precious dollars on heating oil.
“Maine is the most heating oil dependent state in the country, with nearly 70% of Maine homeowners relying on oil for their heating needs. We send five billion dollars out of state every year to pay for our use of nonrenewable fossil fuels. Our high costs of energy and electricity are a barrier to our health and a deterrent to our economy, while our cars and trucks account for more than half of our carbon dioxide emissions.
“I ran for the office of Governor with a promise to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, to address our carbon footprint and to accept the challenge of preventing and mitigating climate change — a threat first identified more than eighty years ago by the British engineer G.S. Callender who issued a call to action that has been largely ignored by some in our country.
“We cannot afford to do nothing.
“That is why I authorized the Governor’s Office of Energy to sign onto a Stipulation that requests the Public Utilities Commission to issue a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, which will allow the New England Clean Energy Connect project to undergo further review before other state and federal agencies.
“Importantly, the discussions in recent weeks have brought to the table the largest generator of renewable energy in North America — HydroQuebec. Partnering with this provincial company to our north, with its plentiful low carbon generation, along with local renewable generators, will not only bring down the price of power for consumers of all sizes but will also help us wean off of fossil fuels in a significant way.
“This project, if further permitted, will put our state and our region on the road to a zero carbon economy by 2050.
“Joined by several prominent environmental groups, western Maine organizations, and others, the Stipulation will allow thousands of Maine low and middle income families to shut off the furnace and heat their homes in the winter and cool them in the summer with modern heat pumps.
“It will put our state in the lead nationally, per capita, in electric vehicle usage.
“By all objective analyses, it will suppress the price of electricity in Maine and in the region, saving Maine residents millions of dollars each year in electricity costs.
“With a substantial investment in broadband, education and other community benefits, it will boost, not diminish, the western Maine economy.
“Finally, while enhancing the reliability of the New England grid to avoid blackouts and brownouts, the project will reduce carbon dioxide emissions in New England by 3.6 million metric tons per year.
“And it will cost Maine ratepayers nothing. Massachusetts will foot the bill.
“I recognize the concerns of those who oppose this project. Their voices continue to be heard as this project undergoes significant review by multiple state and federal agencies, following their established processes.
“But, all told, I believe that the Stipulation presented today to the Public Utilities Commission will require this project to bring substantial and concrete long-term benefits to the people of Maine.
“The agreement today is markedly different from where the discussion started. Over the past several weeks, leading conservation organizations like the Conservation Law Foundation and Acadia Center, the Industrial Energy Consumers Group, the Office of the Public Advocate, and the Governor’s Energy Office and others have brought HydroQuebec to the table and have pushed both HydroQuebec and Central Maine Power to an agreement that provides significant economic and environmental benefits for Maine people.
“And in recent weeks I have met with organizations both opposing and supporting the proposal. As the Chief Executive of the State, it is my responsibility to weigh the broad ramifications of proposals like this and judge whether it moves us forward.
“Now that the project, substantially enhanced by this Stipulation, targets benefits to Maine people, injects millions into our economy and is poised to create jobs, fund electric vehicles, reduce electricity costs, expand broadband access, and substantially reduce our carbon footprint, I believe this is a project that is, on balance, worth pursuing.”