Maine jury clears Avangrid’s 145-mile transmission line, reversing ballot vote that blocked project
- A Maine jury ruled Thursday that Avangrid had the right to build a 145-mile transmission line when state voters in 2021 approved a ballot measure that interrupted construction of the New England Clean Energy Connect, NECEC, project.
- The 9-0 decision in the Maine Business and Consumer Court in Portland turns aside the referendum and allows work to resume on the $1 billion project to deliver Canadian hydropower to the New England grid. Massachusetts ratepayers would be the primary beneficiaries and bear the costs.
- Backers of the project say the transmission line through western Maine will combat climate change by supplying up to 1,200 MW of hydropower, or enough electricity for about 1 million homes. Critics say it will damage woodlands along a portion of the route, but NECEC said the area has been logged for years.
Amy Boyd, vice president for climate and clean energy policy at the Acadia Center, said the transmission line is a “big deal” because hydropower-generated energy will help Massachusetts meet its 2030 climate goals. The state has set in law a 33% limit of greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2025 and 50% below 1990 levels by 2030.
Sources of clean energy, such as hydropower from Quebec, are often distant from population centers and require transmission, she said in an interview Thursday. Costly legal battles with “too much drama” make it difficult to move forward on projects delivering clean energy, Boyd said.
“If there’s this much of a fight for all involved, it’s not going to be possible,” she said.
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