Critics Of CMP Project: Hydropower From Canada Not As Clean As Portrayed

Susan Sharon | Maine Public Radio
Friday, December 6, 2019

Brad Hager, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Earth Sciences in EAPS and the MIT Earth Resources Laboratory, weighs in on potential emissions from a proposed hydropower project running from Canada to New England.

Read and listen to the full story at Maine Public Radio

A hydropower transmission project, Central Maine Power's (CMP) New England Clean Energy Connect, proposes to transport hydropower from Canada to New England. As Susan Sharon reports for Maine Public Radio, the "U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was [recently] taking testimony as it considers CMP's application for a federal permit," and "weigh[ing] expected benefits and foreseeable risks of the project." Supporters of the project cited the threat of climate change and the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions.

But critics say hydropower is not as clean or green as it's portrayed. Brad Hager is a professor of Earth Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has a home in Mercer, Maine. He says several peer-reviewed studies document greenhouse gas emissions from 1,500 hydro facilities, including Hydro-Quebec, which would supply CMP's electricity.

"These studies show that there's an extremely wide range of greenhouse gas emissions from hydro but six of Hydro Quebec's reservoirs are among the top 25 percent of greenhouse gas emitters of hydro plants worldwide."

Hager says their emissions, which come from decay of submerged trees and disturbed soils, range from that of a natural gas power plant to over twice those of coal power plants. 

Story Image: Opponents of CMP's proposed 145-mile transmission line to bring Canadian hydropower energy to the Northeast turn out at a hearing in Lewiston Thursday night. (Credit: Susan Sharon, Maine Public Radio)