Maine voters show maybe transmission projects are going to be more difficult than we thought.
- Nov 5, 2021 11:04 pm GMT
Transmission needs more press time. Transmission is the key to our renewable future. Without transmission, our improvement on carbon emissions feels impossible.
Yes, we've all read this refrains ad nauseam over the last many, many years. It feels like, with infrastructure bills being debated in congress, that transmission was likely to get the attention it deserves as one of the key questions in the battle to lower carbon emissions. On Tuesday, while the entire political journalism ecosystem was focused on the NYC mayor, Virginia and New Jersey governor's races, voters in Maine quietly but forcefully rejected a $1 billion proposition to build a high-voltage, 145-mile transmission project just northeast of Portland.
The margin was not even close: 59% no to 41% yes. The election was scantly covered but offered a bolded and underlined example of how difficult building necessary transmission infrastructure may be. This was a 145-mile line. The U.S. needs many, many, many, more times that.
It has been reported that the parent company of Central Maine Power filed a lawsuit challenging the referendum, saying it violates states and federal law. Whether that will be enough to overturn voter will remains to be seen. However, this shoud be a warning shot to all in the industry, from climate activists to power companies to politicians, that before the transmission battle can be won through the air, it has to be won first on the ground, bringing stakeholders and landowners and neighbors together to buy in and see clearly the benefits.