Maine Supreme Court upholds PUC approval of energy corridor
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The state supreme court has rejected a challenge of utility regulators’ approval of a 145-mile (230-kilometer) power transmission corridor that would serve as a conduit for hydropower from Canada.
NextEra Energy Resources appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court after the Public Utilities Commission granted its approval to the $1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect.
In its unanimous ruling, the panel brushed aside NextEra’s complaint that the PUC made a number of errors on its decision.
“The commission followed the proper procedure and there is sufficient evidence in the record to support the findings it made. In short, the commission reasonably interpreted and applied the relevant statutory mandates in arriving at its decision,” the court wrote Tuesday.
A message left for NextEra wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday.
Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect would allow up to 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to reach the regional power grid to meet Massachusetts’ green energy goals.
Under the proposal, most of the transmission line would follow an established utility corridor, but a new path would be cut through 53 miles (85 kilometers) of wilderness that the power company owns.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission and the Land Use Planning Commissio n already signed off on the project, and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection staff last week recommended approval of the project with some stipulations.
Critics say the project creates an unacceptable environmental harm and fails to take into account the potential harm to homegrown solar, wind and biomass projects in Maine. CMP, meanwhile, contends Maine and the region will benefit from lower carbon emissions, reduced fossil fuel usage and stabilized electricity costs.
Mainers could have the final say, however. Opponents of the project collected enough signatures to put the project on the November ballot so state residents could have the final say.