Construction of the stalled 145-mile electricity transmission line through western Maine can soon resume, after the Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday said it has lifted its suspension order for the project.

The department halted work on the New England Clean Energy Connect line in November 2021, after Mainers voted in a citizen referendum to kill the project. Among the legal fights that ensued, NECEC’s backers sued over a claim they had established “vested rights” to continue building the $1 billion transmission line. After a seven-day trial, a Cumberland County jury on April 20 decided the lawsuit in favor of NECEC.

The project is organized under NECEC Transmission LLC, a subsidiary of Connecticut-based Avangrid Inc., the parent company of Central Maine Power. Both are controlled by Iberdrola, a Spanish multinational energy company.

With the referendum effectively overturned and no appeals in the lawsuit filed by May 12, the project is no longer under suspension, DEP Commissioner Melanie Loyzim wrote in an email Monday to NECEC Transmission.

Before construction crews can begin their work again, the order requires project officials to notify the department five days in advance, specifying where and when operations will resume. The DEP also requires each segment of the corridor to be inspected weekly by a third party.

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