Dep Hears Testimony On Permit Suspension Of Power Corridor

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine Department of Environmental Protection on Monday launched a final public hearing before the commissioner decides whether to withdraw a permit for a $1 billion electricity transmission project.

Opponents of the project urged Commissioner Melanie Loyzim to uphold the will of the people who rebuked the project in a referendum vote.

“There is simply no basis to allow any further construction in the face of that vote,” said Jamie Kilbreath, attorney for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, a leading environmental advocacy group.

Matt Manahan, attorney for the developers, urged the commissioner to wait until there’s a court ruling on the referendum’s constitutionality. “The commissioner should respect the role of the court,” he said.

The hearing, which was expected to stretch into the evening, came days after developers temporarily halted construction in western Maine.

New England Clean Energy Connect Transmission LLC stopped construction Friday on the 145-mile (233-kilometer) project at the request of Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.

The project would supply up to 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to the New England power grid.

The Maine proposal for a transmission line mostly followed existing utility corridors. But a new section needed to be cut through 53 miles (85 kilometers) of woods to reach the border.