Single Question Ok For Power Line Referendum, Court Says

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine’s supreme court on Thursday rejected an attempt to separate a referendum proposal to stop a 145-mile transmission line into three questions, instead of one, on the ballot this fall.

The referendum question asks voters if they want to stop the project, require legislative approval of similar projects retroactively and require approval by a two-thirds vote for those projects that use public land.

The wording of the single question was approved by the office of Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows.

The court unanimously rejected a lawsuit by state Rep. Christopher Caiazzo, D-Scarborough, that sought to break the question into multiple parts, saying the secretary of state didn’t abuse her discretion.

The referendum represents the second attempt to spike the $1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect through a referendum. The first attempt was rejected as unconstitutional by the state supreme court.

The power line in western Maine is intended to serve as a conduit for Canadian hydropower to reach the New England power grid.

Construction is underway after the project received approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Land Use Planning Commission, Maine Public Utilities Commission and Army Corps of Engineers.