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Maine says construction of CMP power corridor can resume

Heavy machinery is used to cut trees to widen an existing Central Maine Power power line corridor to make way for new utility poles, April 26, 2021, near Bingham, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP file
Heavy machinery is used to cut trees to widen an existing Central Maine Power power line corridor to make way for new utility poles, April 26, 2021, near Bingham, Maine.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is lifting its suspension of construction of the controversial 145-mile transmission project known as the New England Clean Energy Connect.

DEP Commissioner Melanie Loyzim on Tuesday notified developers of the NECEC that construction of the corridor may resume under certain conditions, although it's not clear when that will happen.

The corridor, a project of Central Maine Power's parent company Avangrid, has been on hold since 2021 when voters opted to scuttle it, thus leading the DEP to issue a suspension order.

But Avangrid challenged the legality of the referendum and last month a jury found that developers had established the legal right to finish a transmission line that will deliver hydropower from Quebec to the regional grid.

Developers have not said when they'll be able to resume construction, which will require reassembling work crews that were scattered after the suspension order in 2021.

And while opponents of the project have said they won't appeal the jury trial decision, a spokesperson for the Natural Resources Council of Maine said it would continue challenging federal permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Energy.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.

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