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Bob Meinetz's picture
Nuclear Power Policy Activist Independent

I am a passionate advocate for the environment and nuclear energy. With the threat of climate change, I’ve embarked on a mission to help overcome the fears of nuclear energy. I’ve been active in...

  • Member since 2018
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  • Nov 18, 2021
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"When it comes to energy policy and climate action, the lopsided result of a referendum in Maine over a high-voltage transmission project proved yet again that land-use conflicts are the binding constraint on the expansion of renewables in the United States. The rejection of the 145-mile, $1 billion project also showed that the myriad claims being made by politicians and climate activists that we can run our economy solely on renewables are little more than wishful thinking.  

On Tuesday, Mainers voted – by a margin of 59% to 41% — to reject the New England Clean Energy Connect project which aims to move Canadian hydropower to customers in Massachusetts. The referendum was a stinging rebuke for the builders of the project. But it’s not yet clear if the vote will kill the line. On Wednesday, Avangrid Inc., the parent company of Central Maine Power and NECEC Transmission LLC, filed a lawsuit in Maine state court challenging the referendum, alleging it violates “both state and federal law.” Avangrid is a subsidiary of the Spanish utility Iberdrola.

While the outcome of the legal battle is uncertain, there is no doubt that high-voltage transmission projects like the one in Maine are deeply unpopular all across the country. As the Portland Press Herald put it, the battle over the NECEC has been 'one of the most divisive and expensive environmental battles in Maine history.'"

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DONALD KANE's picture
DONALD KANE on Nov 18, 2021

Another example, similar to the Northern Pass project cancellation in New Hampshire, of what will have to change for us to achieve anything close to renewable energy targets.  Issues like this are just too important for the region, and the country, to allow one state to have such decision-making power over something with much broader potential benefits.  Energy transition will require many brave decisions to be made by elected officials in the very near future.  Allowing decisions like this to go to referendum is not going to work.  

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Bob Meinetz on Nov 18, 2021

Donald, what is not going to work is federal agencies demanding control over a project with severe land-use impacts for local residents. Even eminent-domain demands for land from the 1956 Federal Highway Act offered local residents benefits in mobility and access. Plowing a 156-ft wide path through 53 miles of pristine Maine wilderness, just to be able to import clean electricity from Canada, never made sense to Mainers who lived, worked, hunted, and fished in the area.

Residents who would have sacrificed their land for the sake of clean electricity might give some thought to recommissioning Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. It provided 900 milliion watts of clean electricity, safely and reliably, to the region for 24 years before being shut down by anti-nuclear activists in 1996. When it's running again, they could send Greenpeace and Sierra Club the bill.

DONALD KANE's picture
DONALD KANE on Nov 19, 2021

Hi Bob.  I completely agree with keeping (and adding!) as much nuclear as we can.  Maine Yankee provided huge benefits to the entire northeast region.  But wasn't it just another group of Mainers, for whom clean, reliable nuclear energy made no sense, that led the opposition there?  To me, it's just another flavor of the same problem.  We're going to have to change how these decisions are made, and very soon.  

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Bob Meinetz on Nov 19, 2021

"But wasn't it just another group of Mainers, for whom clean, reliable nuclear energy made no sense, that led the opposition there?"

Indeed it was, Donald. Given the imperative we face with climate change, I would hope those Mainers recognize their mistake, and might have overcome a bit of their irrational fear. Because we are going to have to change how these decisions are made: they're going to have to be made based on the best available science, instead.

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