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Clean energy line wins a key permit, but is forced to halt by a lawsuit

image credit: Credit: NASA
DW Keefer's picture
Journalist Independent Journalist and Analyst

DW Keefer is a Denver-based energy journalist who writes extensively for national and international publications on all forms of electric power generation, utility regulation, business models...

  • Member since 2017
  • 277 items added with 271,956 views
  • Jan 19, 2021

The $950 million New England Clean Energy Connect project received its final major permit on January 15, just before a federal appeals court ordered a halt to the most controversial part of the line.

The court granted a temporary injunction sought by opponents ordering the company to stop work on the entirely new section of the proposed line. That stopped work on that part of the line until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit takes further action.

Avangrid, the parent company of Central Maine Power, said the project secured a needed permit from the U.S. Department of Energy, allowing it to begin moving forward.

The New England Clean Energy Connect is a transmission line by Central Maine Power Co. and Hydro-Québec. The high-voltage direct current transmission line would connect to Hydro-Québec’s infrastructure. The project includes a 145-mile line in Maine that has 53 miles through a new corridor in Western Maine before joining up with one that runs from a Kennebec River dam to Lewiston.

A federal lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Council of Maine and Appalachian Mountain Club charges the additional corridor “will create a new, permanent scar on the landscape of Maine’s Western Mountains Region and irreparably damage and fragment numerous aquatic resources and important wildlife habitat.”

The groups are challenging the federal review process for the project, insisting it lacked transparency and completeness.

The appellate court is reviewing a district judge’s refusal to issue an injunction to stop work on the project. The court outlined a timeline that gives 25 days for legal briefs to be filed by both sides.


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