Skepticism threatens to unravel Aroostook power line

WINDSOR, Maine — For months, the path for a proposed transmission line connecting a new Aroostook County wind farm to the regional power grid near Augusta looked smooth.

It already has received a green light from Gov. Janet Mills and lawmakers. Two of the Legislature’s most powerful members were championing it. Apart from needing final approval from regulators, the project looked to be avoiding the grassroots opposition that has marked other energy fights in Maine, including around the Central Maine Power Co. corridor.

But six July meetings in communities along the proposed route laid bare skepticism from residents, echoing Maine’s biggest infrastructure struggles. Two dozen farmers in Albion even protested outside a meeting last week, arguing the line could cut through struggling dairy farms.

Chief among the local criticism is how homeowners did not know the transmission line could run by or through their properties until they heard about the town halls hosted by the project developer, LS Power, and that lawmakers approved the plan in June before the proposed route had been shared with them and the public.

“How do you vote on something you don’t know anything about?” Rita Galliardi of Windsor asked a reporter on Thursday outside a meeting at fairgrounds hall. “That’s just stupid.”

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