Maine lawmakers ask Baker to halt transmission line project
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A bipartisan group of Maine lawmakers on Tuesday asked Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to do everything in his power to terminate a $1 billion hydropower transmission project in Maine that will benefit Massachusetts.
The lawmakers said proceeding with the project against the will of Maine residents could “jeopardize New England’s energy future,” and suggested it could harm future cooperation to tackle climate change.
The Baker administration is weighing its options according to Craig Gilvarg, communications director for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
“The administration is reviewing the outcome of the ballot initiative in Maine and will be working with Avangrid and our regional partners on the path ahead to securing more affordable, renewable energy for Massachusetts,” Gilvarg said in a written statement.
The letter was sent hours before Maine’s environmental commissioner suspended the project’s permit Tuesday evening, following a referendum in which residents rebuked the project.
The 145-mile (233-kilometer) power line in western Maine, designed to bring up to 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to the New England power grid, is fully funded by Massachusetts ratepayers to meet the state’s clean energy goals.
In a letter dated Tuesday, 50 Maine lawmakers told the Republican governor that Massachusetts has alternatives.
“Massachusetts has other options it can pursue to reconcile the will of Maine people with your state’s climate aspirations,” the letter said.
Construction started earlier this year with the clearing of trees for the New England Clean Energy Connect.
Most of the transmission line follows existing utility corridors. But a new section needed to be cut through 53 miles (85 kilometers) of woods to reach the Canadian border.