The Appalaches–Maine Interconnection Line project has been given the green light by the government of Québec following a 20-month environmental assessment process and a sustained collaborative effort between Hydro-Québec and local communities.
The interconnection line will link to the future New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission line, whose construction began in Maine last February.
"Today, we have reached a major milestone in this project, which will have a significant impact in the fight against climate change and generate economic benefits for both Quebecers and our neighbors to the south," said Sophie Brochu, President and CEO of Hydro-Québec.
This project was the focus of a provincial environmental assessment and review procedure, which includes a review by the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE), Québec's office for public hearings on the environment. In its report, made public on December 4, 2020, the BAPE concluded that the proposed line route is acceptable from the standpoint of the biophysical and human environment thanks to Hydro-Québec's optimization efforts and planned mitigation measures. The BAPE also determined that the electricity transmitted via the interconnection will contribute to the decarbonization of the economies of Maine and Massachusetts. The project was also approved by the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec in December 2020 and by the Régie de l'énergie du Québec in July 2020.
Because the power line is part of a transborder initiative, the project must also be assessed by the Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator (CER). This is the last approval to be obtained before construction can begin. According to the CER's procedural timetable, the ruling is expected in spring 2021. Work could begin thereafter, with commissioning scheduled for 2023.
Once completed, the new interconnection will increase the exchange capacity between Québec and New England by 1200MW. The interconnection will supply Massachusetts with 9.45TWh of clean Québec hydropower annually for 20 years. In addition, through an agreement signed with Maine last summer, Maine will receive 0.5 TWh annually for 20 years.