Read the New Petition Language

An Act To Require Legislative Approval of Certain Transmission Lines, Require Legislative Approval of Certain Transmission Lines and Facilities and Other Projects on Public Reserved Lands and Prohibit the Construction of Certain Transmission Lines in the Upper Kennebec Region

DATE OF ISSUANCE: October 30, 2020
Filing Deadline for the November 2021 Ballot:
January 21, 2021 18 month petition expiration date: April 30, 2022

SUMMARY OF PROPOSED INITIATIVE

This initiated bill requires the approval of the Legislature for the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines and provides that high-impact electric transmission lines crossing or utilizing public lands must be approved by 2/3 of all the members elected to each House of the Legislature. This initiated bill also prohibits the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region. These provisions apply retroactively to September 16, 2020, the date of filing of this initiative.

This initiated bill also requires the approval of 2/3 of all the members elected to each House of the Legislature for any use of public lands for transmission lines and facilities and certain other projects. This provision applies retroactively to September 16, 2014.

ESTIMATE OF FISCAL IMPACT

This citizen initiative would require the approval of 2/3 of all the members elected to each House of the Legislature for the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the State and for leases of public reserved lands for utilities and rights-of-way, retroactively applied to September 16, 2014. The initiative would also prohibit any construction of a high-impact electric transmission line in the Upper Kennebec region of the State that has not commenced construction by September 16, 2020.

These provisions may reopen the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) deliberative process related to certain projects and cause termination of a recently negotiated lease that would otherwise have generated at least $65,000 annually for the next 25 years to the Public Reserved Lands Management Fund managed by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF). This lease was to be increased by the Consumer Price Index each year and would have been subject to an appraisal of fair market value within one year. No estimate can be made at this time of additional loss of revenue that may result from other current and future leases that might be affected by this initiative.

Any additional costs to the PUC or the ACF resulting from this initiative are within the scope of normal budgeted activities and are not anticipated to require supplemental appropriations or allocations. It is also assumed that any required legislative considerations and approvals would occur within currently planned sessions of the Legislature and could be absorbed within existing budgeted resources. Provisions prohibiting the construction of high-impact transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec region and those requiring retroactive Legislative approval of projects already approved by the PUC or leases already negotiated by the AFC may result in litigation against the State initiated by the parties impacted. No estimate is made at this time on the potential cost to the Attorney General to defend or participate in such litigation.

To the Legislature of the State of Maine:

In accordance with Section 18 of Article IV, Part Third of the Constitution of the State of Maine, the electors of the State of Maine, qualified to vote for Governor, residing in said State, whose names have been certified on this petition, hereby respectfully propose to the Legislature for its consideration the following entitled legislation: “An Act To Require Legislative Approval of Certain Transmission Lines, Require Legislative Approval of Certain Transmission Lines and Facilities and Other Projects on Public Reserved Lands and Prohibit the Construction of Certain Transmission Lines in the Upper Kennebec Region.”

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:
Sec. 1. 12 MRSA §1852, sub-§4,
as enacted by PL 1997, c. 678, §13 and

amended by PL 2013, c. 405, Pt. A, §24, is further amended to read:

4. Lease of public reserved land for utilities and rights-of-way. The bureau may lease the right, for a term not exceeding 25 years, to:

A. Set and maintain or use poles, electric power transmission and telecommunication transmission lines and facilities, roads, bridges and landing strips;
B. Lay and maintain or use pipelines and railroad tracks; and

C. Establish and maintain or use other rights-of-way.

Any such poles, transmission lines and facilities, landing strips, pipelines and railroad tracks under this subsection are deemed to substantially alter the uses of the land within the meaning of the Constitution of Maine, Article IX, Section 23, and a lease or conveyance for the purpose of constructing and operating such poles, transmission lines and facilities, landing strips, pipelines and railroad tracks under this subsection may not be granted without first obtaining the vote of 2/3 of all the members elected to each House of the Legislature.

Notwithstanding Title 1, section 302 or any other provision of law to the contrary, this subsection applies retroactively to September 16, 2014.

Sec. 2. 35-A MRSA §3131, sub-§4-A, as enacted by PL 2009, c. 655, Pt. A, §3, is amended to read:

4-A. High-impact electric transmission line. "High-impact electric transmission line" means a transmission line greater than 50 miles in length that is not located in a statutory corridor, as defined in section 122, subsection 1, paragraph F-4, or a petitioned corridor, as defined in section 122, subsection 1, paragraph D-1, and that is:

A. Constructed to transmit direct current electricity; or B. Capable of operating at 345 kilovolts or more and:

(1) Is not a generator interconnection transmission facility as defined in section 3132, subsection 1-B; and
(2) Is not constructed primarily to provide electric reliability, as determined by the commission.

Sec. 3. 35-A MRSA §3132, sub-§6-A, as enacted by PL 2009, c. 655, Pt. A, §5, is amended to read:

6-A. High-impact electric transmission line; certificate of public convenience and necessity. The commission shall evaluate and render a decision on any petition for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for a high- impact transmission line in accordance with section 122, subsection 1-D.

Sec. 4. 35-A MRSA §3132, sub-§6-C is enacted to read:

6-C. High-impact electric transmission line; legislative approval. In addition to obtaining a certificate of public convenience and necessity, a high- impact electric transmission line may not be constructed anywhere in the State without first obtaining the approval of the Legislature, except that any high-impact electric transmission line crossing or utilizing public lands designated by the Legislature pursuant to Title 12, section 598-A is deemed to substantially alter the land and must be approved by the vote of 2/3 of all the members elected to each House of the Legislature.

Sec. 5. 35-A MRSA §3132, sub-§6-D is enacted to read:

6-D. High-impact electric transmission line; geographic prohibition.

Notwithstanding subsection 6-C, a high-impact electric transmission line may not be constructed in the Upper Kennebec Region. For the purpose of this subsection, "Upper Kennebec Region" means the approximately 43,300 acres of land located between the Town of Bingham and Wyman Lake, north along the Old Canada Road, Route 201, to the Canadian border, and eastward from the Town of Jackman to encompass Long Pond and westward to the Canadian border, in Somerset County and Franklin County.

Sec. 6. 35-A MRSA §3132, sub-§6-E is enacted to read:

6-E. Retroactivity. Notwithstanding Title 1, section 302 or any other provision of law to the contrary, subsections 6-C and 6-D apply retroactively to September 16, 2020 and apply to any high-impact electric transmission line the construction of which had not commenced as of that date.

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  • Sandi Howard
    published this page in News 2020-10-31 07:05:13 -0400