Environmental and land use regulators have agreed to consider a proposed change to Central Maine Power’s plan for a 145-mile transmission line through western Maine that would bring Canadian hydropower into the regional grid.

In a procedural order filed Thursday, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Land Use Planning Commission agreed to reopen the case record to consider CMP’s plan to re-route about a mile of the transmission line to avoid a protected pond near the Canadian border.

“We appreciate the decision of the DEP and the LUPC to consider a change in the NECEC route. This new route makes a good project that is critical to the future of Maine even better,” the power company said in a statement.

The power company proposed the transmission line nearly two years ago. The case record has been closed since May, while regulators decide whether the project meets land use and environmental standards.

“The presiding officers grant the applicant’s petition to reopen the record, effective upon issuance of this order, for the purpose of allowing the applicant to amend the applications and gather additional evidence needed to evaluate the proposed alternative route,” the order states.

A process for allowing intervenors in the case and the public to review and comment on CMP’s proposed change will be addressed in a subsequent order, regulators said.

Central Maine Power said the amended route is a preferred alternative because it skirts a specially protected zone around Beattie Pond in northern Franklin County. Members of the Land Use Planning Commission deadlocked on a key vote on the transmission line last month because of some commissioners’ concerns about its impact on the pond.

The transmission corridor, called New England Clean Energy Connect, would mostly run along expanded existing power lines, but would require clearing a corridor through about 54 miles of woodland.

Opposition to the project has been fierce. In comments filed last week, opponents said the state should not reopen the case to allow CMP to file a last-minute amendment to its project.

Now that the DEP and LUPC have granted CMP’s request to reopen the record, we expect that all intervening parties and public have an opportunity to file testimony and weigh in on this last-minute change to the CMP corridor site application,” said Sandi Howard, director of Say No to NECEC. “This entire project should be reconsidered. It is not in the interest of Maine people and CMP has shown they shouldn’t be trusted on a project that will have a lasting, negative impact on the state.”

Maine’s Public Utilities Commission approved the project last spring, granting a “certificate of public convenience and necessity.” The commission endorsed a settlement agreement that provides $258 million in financial incentives to the state, communities and electric ratepayers in Maine.


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