With construction on a controversial electrical transmission line through western Maine slated to begin in mid-November, company officials are looking for Mainers who’d like a job working on the $1 billion project.

“We’re ramping up here with the work,” the head of the project, Thorn Dickinson, said Wednesday.

Tim Burgess, business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 104, said, “We’re really excited to get started on this.”

Burgess said anyone who is interested in working on the project, from drivers to linemen, should apply through a new webpage set up by his union.

Dickinson said the company, an Avangrid subsidiary, will begin clearing the right of way as a first step toward completion of the New England Clean Energy Connect project by the summer of 2023.

A Wisconsin-based firm, Northern Clearing, has been hired to oversee preparation of the corridor, from clearing trees to putting in access roads.

Only two regulatory obstacles remain, Dickinson said: transferring the project to a new corporation called NECEC Transmission, as the Maine Public Utilities Commission required, and a green light from the Army Corps of Engineers, which was expected soon but may be held up by a recently filed federal lawsuit.

The proposed 45-mile power line corridor, which has stirred considerable opposition, will connect Hydro-Quebec to New England’s regional energy grid, providing up to 1,200 megawatts of hydropower that will arrive at a new converter station in Lewiston before flowing into existing lines.

The power is targeted for Massachusetts, where consumers are paying for the project, but the electrical grid isn’t state specific, so the electricity will wind up benefiting the entire region.

Dickinson, the president and chief executive officer for NECEC, said the project will average about 1,600 jobs during the construction period. The initial clearing, though, will employ between 300 and 350, he said.

He said the company promised it would try to hire Mainers and is determined to bring aboard as many as possible so they can see for themselves one of the benefits of the project.

Not only will the project employ a lot of people, Dickinson said, it will also provide help for lodging, restaurants and other businesses that cater to the workforce that will be busy along the route for the next two and a half years.

Thorn Dickinson Photo courtesy of Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce

He called it “a really important project for the economy of Maine at a time when it really needs a boost.”

Burgess said that for many Mainers in the electrical workers union, the project represents a chance to come home and put their talents to use on something near their homes.

In addition, he said many other union and nonunion people are going to be needed in lots of roles. Those who are interested, Burgess said, should apply. “We’re going to put some people to work.”

Burgess said the web application portal has been live for a few weeks so far without any publicity. It’s gotten about 75 applications, he said, but as the project picks up its pace he anticipates many more will seek a job on it.

He said there are apprentice opportunities, which open the door for people to get the training and experience to become linemen — a job where many earn $100,000 a year or more doing everything from restoring power after storms to putting up entirely new lines.

Burgess said the hours are long and the work can be hard.

“You can make a good living, but it’s well-earned,” Burgess said.


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