S & P Global
Activists have filed more than 100,000 signatures with the Maine secretary of state’s office in a fresh attempt to get an anti-transmission corridor referendum on the ballot.
It marks the second-such citizens initiative against Avangrid Inc. subsidiary Central Maine Power Co.’s New England Clean Energy Connect transmission line, which if developed will be a high- voltage, direct-current line running about 145 miles from the U.S./ Canada border, carrying hydroelectric power to the New England power grid.
In a letter filed Jan. 21 with Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, anti-transmission corridor activist Tom Saviello noted that the 28,254 petitions included 100,944 signatures from 502 towns, townships or territories in the state. Saviello, a former Republican state legislator, said in an email that the campaign had collected the signatures in just two months, all while following COVID-19 protocols.
To be placed on the November 2021 ballot, at least 63,067 of the signatures will need to be certified by Bellows. If passed by voters, the ballot initiative would require two-thirds of the state legislature to approve any high-impact transmission line construction as well as “any use of public lands for transmission lines and similar linear projects.” It also would prohibit any high-impact transmission line construction in approximately 43,300 acres of the Upper Kennebec Region.
The anti-transmission corridor referendum is the latest hurdle to rise up in recent days against Avangrid’s project. On Jan. 15, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction that three environmental groups sought over a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit previously granted for the transmission project.
The injunction came the same day that Avangrid said it had received its presidential permit from the U.S. Energy Department that specifically allows for cross-border construction work, and days after some construction work had already begun.
by Bridget Reed Carson-Morawski
COMPANIES REFERENCED IN THIS ARTICLE:
Avangrid Inc. AGR https://platform.mi.spglobal.com/interactivex/snapshot.aspx?id=4056978
Central Maine Power Co. https:/platform.mi.spglobal.com/interactivex/doc.aspx?CDID=A-62248866-10540&DoNotRedirectTo3=1