Maine’s highest court heard oral arguments Wednesday on whether voters should get a chance to force state regulators to revoke their approval of Central Maine Power's controversial powerline project. Project opponents successfully petitioned earlier this year to get the question on November's ballot.
But now CMP's parent company, Avangrid, says the court should bar the vote, arguing that it would be unconstitutional for voters to override the Public Utilities Commission's decision. Avangrid lawyer John Aromando told the court that to allow an unconstitutional question to be voted would be a, "step back into the shadows."
"The integrity of the Maine Constitution and our constitutional form of government depends on it."
A lawyer for a group called Mainers for Local Power, which is backed by natural-gas energy companies that could lose money if the project goes through, argued to keep the item on the ballot. Paul Hughes says the extent of the voters' actual authority to override the regulators shouldn't be decided until after they weigh in. To do otherwise, he says, would undermine principles of participatory democracy and preclude a "powerful means" for voters to speak to the Legislature.