Maine voters rejected a proposal to construct a nearly $1 billion transmission line into the state from a Canadian hydropower plant, a project endorsed by the Biden administration.
Central Maine Power (CMP) already started construction on the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission line which would’ve stretched 145 miles, the Associated Press reported. But nearly 60% of Mainers voted against the project, the most expensive proposition in state history, in a referendum this week.
“The vote sends a message to CMP that Mainers want to reject this corridor. They want to preserve the integrity of western Maine,” No CMP Corridor director Sandi Howard told the AP. “Mainers clearly don’t trust CMP to develop a project of this magnitude.”
The hydropower line would’ve provided enough energy to power one million homes in New England, according to the AP. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Democratic Maine Gov. Janet Mills both said the project was vital for the region to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.
“The (NECEC) transmission line will bring clean energy to New England and reduce carbon emissions equivalent to taking 700k cars off the road,” Granholm tweeted on Oct. 28. “I hope Mainers vote NO on ONE to keep this project moving and reliable, affordable, #CleanEnergy flowing.”
While Democrats supported the transmission line, many environmental groups opposed it, arguing that it would require massive deforestation stretching 53 miles, according to the AP. The Biden administration joined an anti-deforestation pact at the ongoing United Nations climate conference in the U.K. earlier this week.
Avangrid, CMP’s parent company, filed a lawsuit in Maine on Wednesday, arguing that the referendum was unlawful, according to a press release. The utility company accused fossil fuel companies of dishonestly swaying voters to oppose the project and funneling millions of dollars into a campaign to block it.
“We have followed the rules every step of the way in a transparent and public process and have received every regulatory approval required for this project to proceed, however, fossil fuel companies have done everything they can, including misleading Mainers, to try and block this clean energy project,” Avangrid subsidiary NECEC Transmission chief executive Thorn Dickinson said in a statement.
“This referendum was an act of bad faith by self-interested proponents and was targeted at stopping a single project,” he continued.
Dickinson added that federal and state regulators already approved the project and 124 miles of transmission corridor had already been cleared.
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