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Of Powerlines and People: Maine and the New England Clean Energy Connect

Wednesday, May 15, 2024, 7:00pm – 8:30pm

An evening of Q&A with former "CMP Corridor" CEO Thorn Dickinson


Not Required


Mather Auditorium

This event is handicap accessible
Workers watch the installation of the first pole of Central Maine Power’s hydropower transmission corridor Tuesday near The Forks. The pole was erected on an existing corridor that had been widened near Moxie Pond. (Associated Press/Robert F. Bukaty)

Experts agree that solving the climate crisis can't happen without enhancing America's electrical grid, and yet a billion-dollar project, the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC aka "the CMP Corridor"), was almost canceled by Maine voters. It's under construction now, but it almost wasn't. Why?

Avangrid's new 145-mile transmission line between Quebec and Maine will provide 1,200 megawatts (MW) of Canadian hydroelectric power to the New England power grid, enough to meet the demand of 1.2 million homes and significantly advance the region's climate goals. And yet, though the project obtained all necessary permits, it nearly didn't happen: it was blocked at the ballot box by Maine voters in 2021 and only restarted construction after a 2023 jury determined the project could continue. Citizens, businesses, environmental organizations, and communities fell on opposing sides during the drawn-out public campaign for and against the "CMP Corridor," and large corporate and foreign interests flooded the state with money and misinformation.

But what was the real story? What were the true pros and cons of this massive electrical infrastructure project? As part of the 2024 "Tradeoffs" lecture series, former NECEC chief executive officer Thorn Dickinson will gamely answer questions and take the audience inside the 10-year project to bring Canadian hydropower through Maine. Bring your questions and your listening hats for this public, candid discussion.

Guest of honor: Until recently, Thorn Dickinson worked in the energy industry for 35 years. He held positions in business development, transmission and distribution operations, resource planning, rates and regulatory, strategic planning, investor relations, and risk management. The last ten years of his career he was the CEO of the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC aka "the CMP Corridor") project. Thorn earned an MBA from Syracuse University and a B.S. in electrical engineering from Union College. Retiring in 2023, Thorn now is a partner of a recording studio, a high school wrestling referee, and chair of the Board of Directors of Baxter Academy, the public charter STEM high school in Portland, Maine.

Thorn Dickinson, retired NECEC CEO

The evening will be moderated by Laudholm Trust president Nik Charov.

The 2024 "Tradeoffs" lecture series at the Wells Reserve, hosted by Laudholm Trust, explores the nuances and challenges of environmental solutions in the 21st Century. Topics will include the electrical grid, offshore wind, carbon taxes, and more. Subscribe the the Reserve's monthly e-newsletter to learn more.

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