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Five First Nations file brief with DOE opposing New England Clean Energy Connect

image credit: © Stephan Pietzko |

Much of the opposition to the proposed New England Clean Energy Connect transmission project has come from people upset by the fact that building it will require cutting a new corridor through 53 miles of forest currently used for timber in western Maine.

But the project also is opposed by five of the Canadian groups of indigenous people known as the First Nations, who claim that 36 percent of Hydro-Québec’s hydroelectric power belongs to them because it is generated by facilities built in their ancestral territories without their consent.

The First Nations of Pessamit (Innu), Wemotaci (Atikamekw), Pikogan, Lac Simon and Kitcisakik (Anishnabeg) reiterated their opposition to the NECEC in a brief they filed Oct. 7 with the Department of Energy, which must grant the project a presidential permit because it crosses an international boarder.

The NECEC would bring hydropower generated by Hydro-Québec through Maine and into the New England grid for consumers in Massachusetts. It was selected for that purpose by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources after the Northern Pass transmission project, which would have brought hydropower from Quebec through New Hampshire to the Bay State, was denied a permit by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee in May 2018.

In their press release announcing the brief they filed with the DOE, the First Nations said the Pessamit First Nation helped derail that project and said, "If governments turn a deaf ear to our rights, Pessamit, Wemotaci, Pikogan, Lac Simon and Kitcisakik will do their utmost to derail the NECEC project in return!"

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