1.17 Newsletter

Dear Friend, I’m not going to lie, this has been a rollercoaster week with court rulings and the Presidential permit being granted. The trifecta is:  1) The US Department of Energy’s Presidential Permit was granted, without a comprehensive study OR a public comment period (bad news) 2) Our citizen intervenor motion to stay the DEP permit was denied (more bad news) 3) Sierra Club, NRCM, AMC's request for an injunction of the Army Corps permit during the federal appeal process WAS GRANTED (THE BEST NEWS!)   Continue reading

Sen. Richard Bennett and Rep. Nicole Grohoski: Kick Hydro-Quebec out of Maine’s elections

Lewiston Sun Journal Hydro-Quebec’s main mission isn’t to save our environment from global warming. In fact, six of its reservoirs are ranked in the top quarter of the world’s biggest carbon emitting hydro facilities. Rather, Hydro-Quebec’s mission is to double profits by 2030, and selling its existing power to New England markets at an inflated rate is a key component of its plan. The 130th Maine Legislature was recently sworn in, and already Hydro-Quebec — the supplier of energy for the so-called Central Maine Power Corridor powerline project through western Maine — has begun its efforts to pit Maine lawmakers against their own constituents, who want to have the opportunity to vote on the controversial project in a statewide referendum. As legislators, and volunteer signature gatherers ourselves, we find their continued efforts to influence the outcome of elections in Maine appalling, which is why we recently sent a letter to our colleagues to warn them of Hydro-Quebec’s rank hypocrisy. Continue reading

The United States gives the green light to Hydro-Quebec's project in New England

Radio-Canada (translated version) The US Department of Energy on Friday granted the presidential permit to the project to build an electricity transmission line between Quebec and the state of Massachusetts. All the authorizations necessary for the realization of the project were therefore obtained in the United States, wrote Friday Hydro-Quebec, main contractor of the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), which was meticulously scrutinized by Washington and the State. from Maine for 33 months. In all, six agencies and departments, including U.S. Army engineers, evaluated the project and ultimately gave the green light. The presidential authorization obtained on Friday will therefore allow Hydro-Quebec's American partner, Avangrid, to begin interconnection work between Quebec and Massachusetts, which includes the passage of high-voltage lines in the territory of Maine. The cost of the 233-kilometer route in the United States is estimated at 950 million US dollars. Completion of this important project will allow Quebec to export 9.45 terawatt-hours of hydroelectricity per year for 20 years to the state of Massachusetts. A contract that should generate revenues estimated at 10 billion US dollars for Hydro-Quebec. Getting a presidential permit is great news. Like the pandemic, the climate emergency knows no borders. This interconnection project is a big step forward in our decarbonisation efforts, said Sophie Brochu, President and CEO of Hydro-Québec, in a press release. The commissioning of the NECEC is scheduled for 2022. Regulatory evaluations relating to the Quebec portion of the project linking the Appalachian region to Maine have not yet been completed. However, the NECEC has already obtained the approval of the Régie de l'énergie du Québec and the Commission for the protection of agricultural land in Quebec. This contract for the sale of hydroelectricity between Quebec and Massachusetts, which sought clean energy sources to replace that of its gas-fired power plants, was concluded in 2018. This is the largest electricity export contract in Hydro-Québec's history, which will supply the equivalent of one million houses in Massachusetts from this transmission line. According to Hydro-Quebec, the NECEC will eliminate more than 3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, or the equivalent of 700,000 cars. A disturbing project But as green as it is, the project hardly enchants those who will see pylons being erected in their part of the country. Called the Northern Pass, the first version of this 320 kV transmission line was originally intended to pass through New Hampshire. The project was abandoned in 2019 following opposition from the people of that state. Shortly after, Hydro-Quebec returned to the charge with the NECEC project, this time connecting the Appalachian substation in Quebec to that of Lewiston, in southern Maine. There, the line should connect to the existing New England network. Infographic of the New England Clean Energy Connect project route to Lewiston, southern Maine. New England Clean Energy Connect project route to Lewiston, southern Maine. PHOTO: RADIO-CANADA / CHRISTIAN GOUPIL Here again, the project has aroused opposition from environmentalists, associations of hikers, recreationists, hunters, fishermen and even snowmobilers who denounce the negative impact that this corridor will have on people. forests and waterways of Maine. In addition to its environmental impact, there are fears that the transmission line could harm the recreational tourism industry by devaluing the landscapes and outdoor activities that bring life to the region crossed by the famous Appalachian Trail. Opponents who had obtained a referendum in the state in the fall of 2020 on the NECEC project were ultimately dismissed in the courts of Maine, which ruled unconstitutional the holding of this plebiscite. In Quebec, the power line, which is to travel 103 kilometers to the municipality of Frontenac, uses existing lines on 72% of the route. Few voices are raised against the project on this side of the border, except in Thetford Mines, where the line must pass near houses.

WATCH: Central Maine Power’s parent company Avangrid secured its final permit, the Presidential Permit from the US Dept. of Energy, but start still delayed

WATCH HERE: News Center Maine WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The long-awaited and controversial New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) project has officially secured all major permitting, Central Maine Power (CMP) parent company Avangrid announced Friday. But, Friday afternoon, a federal court issued an injunction, essentially forcing Avangrid to pause construction on a specific section of the project from Quebec to The Forks. The U.S. First Circuit of Appeals issued an injunction against NECEC Friday while the court reviews an appeal of a specific permit through the Army Corps of Engineers. Continue reading

Dawn King LTE: CMP pro-corridor ads spread fear, misinformation

Lewiston Sun Journal As a Mainer who has spent countless hours volunteering my time to qualify the “No CMP Corridor” referendum for the ballot for a second year in a row, I am deeply offended by Central Maine Power’s latest ads against our volunteer effort, which are designed to instill fear and spread misinformation. The Maine Constitution recognizes the right of Mainers to circulate petitions to qualify a question for a statewide vote, but this foreign-owned utility has done everything it can to prevent a vote on its unpopular New England Clean Energy Connect corridor project, because it means nearly $3 billion in profits for its Spanish shareholders. Because of CMP’s greedy appetite for profits, in 2017 Maine was plagued with the most frequent and prolonged power outages in the country, and the company has been rated dead last for three years in a row for customer satisfaction. People should not be fooled by its propaganda. Let’s keep it simple. Protect Maine and don’t get fooled by big money and foreign-owned companies, as well as elected and appointed officials who will not support our rights to a vote. Dawn King, Lisbon

Federal Appeals Court Halts Construction Of CMP Power Line

Maine Public Central Maine Power was planning to start clearing a path through Maine’s western woods for its controversial power line project on Friday, but a federal appeals court put that to a stop with a temporary injunction. The decision comes the same day as the company won the last major permit the project needs. But that federal permit was issued even though the government did not provide a public comment period officials had promised to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. A lower court judge last month declined to bar construction of the northernmost section of the corridor while considering a challenge by three conservation groups to an Army Corps of Engineers permit for the project. But now a federal appeals court is granting a temporary injunction to give the groups time to argue for a longer stay while the permit case is adjudicated. Continue reading

Controversial power project gets final permit, plans may have to wait for construction to start

Lewiston Sun Journal A federal appeals court called a halt to some work pending further review of a legal case brought by foes of the hydropower transmission line through western Maine. Power lines snake across the landscape Friday afternoon into and out of the substation on Larrabee Road in Lewiston. Hydropower from Quebec will come through the substation before being sent to Massachusetts, if the New England Clean Energy Connect project is completed. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo Shortly after the New England Clean Energy Connect project to bring Quebec hydropower to New England received its final major permit Friday, expecting to begin construction on the $950 million transmission line soon, a federal appeals court hit the brakes on the most controversial part of the line. Continue reading

Federal court halts construction on last segment of CMP corridor

Bangor Daily News Just after Central Maine Power’s parent company said it had received the final key permit for its hydropower corridor and started construction, a federal appeals court ruled Friday that the company could not start work on the last 53 miles of the project from The Forks to the Canadian border. Continue reading

Controversial Maine power corridor gets final major permit

WMTW-8 PORTLAND, Maine — The New England Energy Connect project has received its final major permit, but a federal appeals judge has placed a 30-day hold on some construction. The judge's ruling came after AVANGRID, the parent company of Central Maine Power, which is behind the project, said clearing work had started to build temporary access roads that will facilitate the construction of the transmission line. The order stems from a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club and other groups in December. They wanted a district court judge put a hold on the Army Corps of Engineers permit, which would have effectively blocked construction. The judge denied the request. An appeal was filed by environmentalists, and the appeals court judge sided with them Friday. AVANGRID said it would continue with construction on other portions of the transmission line until that legal issue is resolved. The $1 billion project will bring electricity from Hydro-Quebec through Maine and into the New England power grid. New England Clean Energy Connect calls for widening existing corridors, but a new swath would be cut through 53 miles of wilderness in western Maine. The lawsuit filed by environmentalists deals with the new portion of the corridor that needs to be built. The project has faced fierce opposition, including a failed effort last year that would have asked voters to stop the project. The Maine Supreme Court ruled the ballot initiative violated the state constitution. A new ballot initiative has been launched this year to try and stop the project AVANGRID and supporters of the project have said it would bring more clean energy to Maine and New England. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

LTE: NECEC is not about reliability

Kennebec Journal The NECEC is not an electric reliability project. The purpose of the New England Clean Energy Connect project is to bring hydropower from Quebec, through Maine, to meet the contracts between Hydro-Quebec and three utilities in Massachusetts for the benefit of Massachusetts and two foreign corporations. The NECEC does not support the reliability of the Maine power grid. A recent ad featuring a paid supporter of the NECEC project alleges that the NECEC project supports electric reliability. Do not believe this falsehood. John Nicholas Winthrop