Over the past few months, Mainers have been inundated with TV and online ads showing a burbling Kennebec River and aerial views of the Maine wilderness overlaid with assurances that neither would be harmed by the proposed New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission project.

A January 15 quarterly financial statement from Clean Energy Matters, the political action committee behind the ads, sheds some light on the scale of the campaign. During the last three months of 2019, the PAC spent $2.35 million to promote the controversial project.

Clean Energy Matters is funded entirely by Central Maine Power — its parent company, Avangrid, is the official name behind the NECEC proposal.

The majority ($1.77 million) of Clean Energy Matter’s Bloombergian ad blitz went to GMMB, Inc., a Washington, D.C.–based agency with a national portfolio of ads for progressive candidates and ballot measures. The PAC additionally paid $136,500 to New York City–based Global Strategy Group, LLC, for research, $97,981 to Washington, D.C.–based TargetSmart Communications, LLC, for polling and survey research, and paid its principal officer, Jon Breed, $53,125 over the three-month reporting period.

The $950 million NECEC project would bring electricity from a network of Hydro-Québec plants in Canada through Maine to Massachusetts. The project has backing from Gov. Janet Mills and was approved earlier this month by Maine Land Use Planning Commission. It still needs approval by the state Department of Environmental Protection and the federal government. Avangrid says the project will bring “clean” energy to New England customers and reduce fossil fuel dependence in the winter.

The project would provide 17 percent of Massachusetts’ electricity and help the state meet its renewable energy quota. Avangrid has promised Maine $258 million in rate relief and other incentives.

In exchange, the utility would add 145 miles of new transmission lines, including a 53-mile extension cut through the wilderness of Western Maine.

Some opponents say the Hydro-Québec dams across the border have created their own environmental problems, and the corridor itself, in addition to deforesting a strip of Maine wilderness, would break up critical wildlife habitat. Some just don’t like the idea of Maine being a pass-through for Avangrid’s Massachusetts customers.

Much like the proposed land-based salmon farm in Belfast, the NECEC has divided environmental advocates, pitting those who support big technological solutions to the Climate Crisis against those who believe industry is cynically using the environment for public relations.

The opposition group “Say No to NECEC” is gathering signatures for a November referendum on the proposal that would reverse last year’s Maine Public Utilities Commission approval by deeming the NECEC transmission project unnecessary.

Say No was the top donor to the political action committee “No CMP Corridor,” which reported $8,058 in total donations on its January 15 financial statement.