To the Editor:
Response to Mr. Carter/Lewiston Sun Journal (https://www.sunjournal.com/2021/03/12/tell-the-truth-about-the-corridor/)
There are folks in Maine who dislike the Clean Energy Corridor. People are obviously entitled to their opinion on the matter, and Hydro-Québec respects that entirely. The building of infrastructure almost always faces social acceptability challenges. In this context, a thoughtful and healthy conversation is key, exempt from falsehoods and distortions such as were published here by Jonathan Carter.
That being said, we do agree with Mr. Carter on two points, make every humanly possible effort to reduce emissions and increase the number of clean energy sources available to Mainers. The rest of his opinion requires significant fact-checking.
Mr. Carter mentioned our clean-energy reservoirs so let’s start there.
Hydro-Quebec’s generating stations can produce over 200 million megawatt hours of low-carbon energy. Do our hydropower projects have an impact on the environment? Yes, but we know what those impacts are, and over the 75 years of our company’s existence, we’ve learned how to limit them through innovative project design and mitigation measures. No biodiversity is lost.
In fact, Hydro-Quebec incorporates extensive environmental measures to mitigate and monitor environmental impacts that protect fish habitats, enhance prized fish species, and conserve wildlife and vegetation. Additionally, methane is not an issue in Quebec reservoirs because of the cold water, which contains more dissolved oxygen, and sparse vegetation in Quebec’s northern environment. Several peer-reviewed scientific studies have confirmed this.
Second, Mr. Carter applauds the citizens’ initiative, but again conveniently omits that the fossil fuel industry financed their signature gathering efforts. Competitors of Hydro-Quebec’s clean energy: Calpine of Houston Texas and Vistra Energy of Irving, Texas, formed a Political Action Committee (PAC) called Mainers for Local Power and paid young adults $35 an hour to gather signatures.
These fossil fuel companies spent more than $1million dollars on signature gathering efforts to get their question on the ballot in November. Granted there are people in Maine who oppose the project, for their own personal and genuine reasons. But this construct of “Say Nos…” and “No Corridors” with oil & gas money is not “grassroots” despite project opponents’ best efforts to claim otherwise. It’s a tried and tested model by the fossil industry.
For more on that, see here: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/02/oil-industry-fighting-climate-policy-states/606640/. Mainers can also learn more about the financing of the referendum effort in the public record on Maine Ethics Commission website (https://www.maine.gov/ethics/committees/ballot-question).
Third, the New England Clean Energy Connect will provide much-needed reliability and energy diversification to the New England grid. Independent research and reports from MIT (http://ceepr.mit.edu/publications/reprints/719) and the United States International Trade Commission (https://usitc.gov/publications/332/pub5154.pdf) have confirmed that over the long term, hydroelectricity imports to the US help stabilize electricity prices, reduce costs to consumers, and make variable renewable energy (such as wind and solar) more profitable.
Additionally, the people of Maine will receive enough discounted energy to power 70,000 homes or 10,000 businesses as a direct result of the Clean Energy Corridor.
At the end of the day, all Hydro-Quebec can do is provide evidence-based facts and hope Mainers choose an energy future powered by water, wind, and the sun, not fossil fuels.
Director of communications