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Maine's highest court says referendum blocking transmission project was likely unconstitutional.

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
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  • Sep 1, 2022

Remember the story from last November about a citizen-initiated petition that won a majority at the ballot box and successfully halted the massive, billion-dollar New England Clean Energy Connect transmission project proposed by Central Maine Power? 

That project may now be back on the table, although a lengthy court battle is likely to ensue. Maine's Supreme Judicial Court ruled on Aug. 30 that the referendum failed to consider the project's developer's "constitutionally protected vested rights" by putting in place new restrictions after the project had received permits. 

With a billion-dollar project on the line, one could assume the Central Maine Power has put on a full court press to lobby for its position in this case, and the court's decision reflects how vocal the developer has been in claiming its rights had been ignored. However, in its decision, the court did not give the New England Clean Energy Connect project the greenlight, choosing instead to send it back down to the lower courts for further analysis. The rights Central Maine Power claim are related to the $450 million the company invested into the project after receiving a bureaucratic green light and before voters went to the polls in November 2021.

The New England Clean Energy Connect project would have placed a 145-mile high-voltage transmission line through the center of Maine so that Hydro-Quebec would be able to send power to the New England power grid. 

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Sep 2, 2022

I am so glad to hear that this project is back on the table. I strongly believe that the issue was thoroughly bungled by the State of Maine. 
I wish I knew how and why the project’s critics achieved the killing of the project. It certainly was not for any significant environmental impact that the project might have. 
On the contrary, when and if the project is complete it will result in more dependable, renewable, less expensive power and a significant reduction of gas generated power in New England. It may lead to the closing of the uncompetitive Seabrook nuclear plant. 
So, it may not be so difficult to identify the real culprit(s) for this fiasco. 

Just follow the money!

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