Alna selectmen pull support for town being CMP project 'Sherpa'

Carroll: Without Massachusetts deal, Maine gets '100 percent of nothing'
Fri, 10/05/2018 - 12:00pm

    Central Maine Power no longer has Alna's support to expand the transmission lines that run through it and some of its neighbor towns. After hearing from CMP's project spokesman, selectmen voted 3-0 Oct. 3 to retract a 2017 letter of support.

    John Carroll wanted to meet with selectmen after learning last month they were considering retracting it. Resident Cathy Johnson asked them to. After the Oct. 3 vote, she thanked them.

    Arguing minutes earlier for last year's letter to stick, Carroll said the project bringing Canadian hydropower to Massachusetts means a first 10-year benefit to Maine of $1 billion in jobs, property taxes, energy cost savings and a higher gross domestic product, and cleaner air for all of New England. The states' collective grid needs more and cleaner power to keep the supply reliable and cut greenhouse gases, he said.

    Third Selectman Doug Baston said he wants the plan slowed down so Maine can get more out of it. He compared Massachusetts to a big game hunter; and Maine is being asked to issue the hunting license, he said. "We're kind of the Sherpas in the middle just carrying."

    Carroll said one year of economic benefits to Maine "outstrips" the 40-year funding commitment to Massachusetts. He said the bidding is over and CMP cannot negotiate a different deal. If the project doesn't happen, Maine will get 100 percent of nothing, he told the board.

    As for CMP's projected $386,600 in new taxes for Alna starting in 2023, Baston said the assessor the town uses for CMP has advised caution with the figure.

    If the state doesn't push for a better bargain, the little towns need to, Baston said. "I want this to be real." Nothing in the plan gives Maine workers preference on the jobs, he said.

    Carroll responded, if a large company comes in, it will hire locally.

    Also Oct. 3, the board announced Linda Verney has been hired as a deputy town clerk. She replaces Janice Bradford, who resigned for personal reasons, First Selectman Melissa Spinney said.

    Selectmen started an account to move historic buildings' reserve funds into each time the town decides to tap them. That brings the accounting in line with other reserves, selectmen said.

    One of Alna's representatives to Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit 12, Ralph Hilton, said the unit wants to know what news the member towns would like to be getting and how. Selectmen told him they would like the website improved. Hilton agreed. "It's virtually inpossible to find the information ... you'd really like to have," Hilton said. He said he will tell the RSU.