Developers of a project to transmit hydropower from Quebec in Canada to New England in the US have filed a lawsuit after voters in Maine rejected plans for the $1 billion project.
The New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) project was rejected by 59% of voters in Maine, but NECEC Transmission LLC and Avangrid Networks, Inc., subsidiaries of AVANGRID, Inc, filed a lawsuit in Maine Superior Court challenging the citizens’ initiative (Question 1) which was voted on 2 November.
The NECEC project has been proposed to deliver 1200MW of hydropower across a 233km long transmission line which would be located in forests in Maine. Construction began in early 2021 and to date, approximately 124 miles of the transmission corridor have been cleared and over 120 structures have been installed. In a statement, Avangrid said that the project has been reviewed by state and federal regulators and permitting agencies and has received every regulatory approval required at the state and federal levels, including from the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC), the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP), the Maine Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the US Department of Energy. In addition, the project has already received municipal approvals from 20 out of the 24 Maine municipalities that require permits for the project
Opponents of the project include NextEra, Calpine and Vistra Energy who claim it would damage the local area and affect tourism in the region.
Avangrid said that Question 1 proposes to retroactively change Maine law to block the project, which is says is ‘unconstitutional and violates both state and federal law’. The lawsuit filed yesterday outlines how Question 1 violates a number of legal principles including vested property rights, separation of powers, and the contracts clauses of the Maine and U.S. Constitutions, the company said.