The $250-300 million converter station off outer Main Street in Lewiston, seen in April, looks much the same as it did in 2021 when the New England Clean Energy Connect project was shut down. Work on the Lewiston converter station is expected to resume Thursday. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Work on the New England Clean Energy Connect hydropower converter station off outer Main Street is slated to resume Thursday, according to the leader of Central Maine Power’s parent company, Avangrid.

During a recent conference call to report second quarter financials, Avangrid CEO Pedro Blazquez said work on “critical path activities” at the Lewiston substation will resume Aug. 3.

The substation will convert direct current from Hydro-Quebec to alternating current for consumer use.

NECEC construction on the $1.5 billion project to build a 145-mile corridor to transmit electricity from Hydro-Quebec through western Maine to Massachusetts has been paused since November 2021 due to a legal fight and citizen initiative that sought to stop the project. However, a court ruling this spring sided with transmission line developers.

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

Last week, NECEC and CMP notified the Maine Department of Environmental Protection that some construction activities would resume in August. A notice sent to abutters of the project said that includes Lewiston, where a new converter station and upgraded substation are being constructed.


Ted Varipatis, a project spokesman, said part of the reason work will restart in Lewiston is because that part of the project will be time consuming. For the rest of the corridor, the large majority of clearing was completed, but the two-year delay has added extra costs to the project.

During the conference call, Blazquez said the Massachusetts legislature is supporting a bill that would allow the state to renegotiate “transmission services agreements” with Avangrid and Hydro-Quebec regarding the cost increases to the project, which are estimated at an additional $500 million.

He said the project has an expected total cost of $1.5 billion, with $638 million already spent.

In Lewiston, city officials are trying to get more information from NECEC regarding the timeline for the work.

According to City Assessor William Healey, city staff is trying to schedule a meeting with NECEC regarding “valuation of the project moving forward.” A major piece of Lewiston’s support for the project since its inception has been the projected tax revenue from the converter station.

Healey said original projections were in the range of $305 million in taxable valuation, meaning an annual tax revenue in the range of $7.3 million when complete.

In 2021, prior to the work stoppage, Lewiston lowered its property tax rate after budget season due to roughly $100 million in new valuation tied to the project.

On Monday, Mayor Carl Sheline said, “The corridor is important not only for climate change and renewable energy, but it also represents millions of dollars of increased property tax revenue for Lewiston. I look forward to a community conversation about what our priorities should be for this increased surplus. It’s an incredible opportunity for our city.”

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