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First Nations file lawsuit to stop line that would bring power to NECEC

image credit: © Hydro-Québec
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I've been a business journalist since 1985 when I received an MBA from Penn State. I covered energy, technology, and venture capital for The Philadelphia Business Journal from 1998 through 2013....

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  • Jul 13, 2021

A group of First Nation tribes in Québec have filed a lawsuit to stop a transmission line that would feed hydropower into the controversial New England Clean Energy Connect transmission project, according to a report from Maine Public.

The tribes are suing Québec’s government to halt construction of the 64 mile-long Appalaches–Maine Interconnection Line, which would bring hydropower generated by Hydro-Québec to the Québec-Maine border where the NECEC would transmit it 147 miles to Lewiston, Maine.

Lucien Wabanonik, a spokesman for the tribes who belongs to the Anishnabeg Nation, said that although the Appalaches–Maine Interconnection Line wouldn’t cross the tribes’ lands, more than a third of the dam system that would provide the power the line would transmit is on land the tribes never ceded to the province of Québec. Wabanonik also said that Hydro-Québec would have to increase capacity at its reservoirs to provide the power for the Appalaches–Maine Interconnection Line and the NECEC, which likely would put additional stress on the ecosystems the tribes depend on for sustenance.

A spokeswoman for Hydro-Québec said the company won’t have to change reservoir levels to produce the power that would be transmitted over the lines and that the lawsuit is invalid for that reason and because the Appalaches–Maine Interconnection Line wouldn’t cross the tribes’ land.

Hydro-Québec, whose dam is pictured above, received the last permit it needed for the Appalaches–Maine Interconnection Line in late May.

The power that the Appalaches–Maine Interconnection Line and NECEC would transmit would go to consumers in Massachusetts, which chose the project through a clean power solicitation. Avangrid's NECEC LLC subsidiary would build, own and operate the NECEC, whose major and most controversial component is a 147-mile-long high voltage direct current power line that would run through a new corridor that would be cut through forest being logged for timber in western Maine for 53 miles and then through an existing transmission corridor owned by Avangrid’s Central Maine Power subsidiary for 94 miles. The project would also include upgrades to 50 miles of existing alternating current transmission lines and the construction of a new DC-to-AC converter substation in Lewiston, Maine, and a new 345 kilovolt substation in Pownal, Maine.


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