Opponents and supporters of Central Maine Power’s planned energy transmission line in western Maine have squared off again on the company’s request to amend its construction plan less than a week before regulators are due to make a decision.

Last week CMP asked the Department of Environmental Protection to reopen its application so it could slightly change the route of its 145-mile power corridor to avoid Beattie Pond, a remote, specially protected body of water near the Canadian border. The record on the case has been closed since May.

Department staff is reviewing the request and any additional information provided by the applicant, as well as recently submitted comments from intervening parties, DEP spokesman David Madore said.

“The next step for DEP will be to issue a procedural order,” which will either deny CMP’s petition to reopen the case, or approve it and lay out a timeline and procedure the department will to follow as it reviews the amendment. Madore said DEP expects to file the procedural order next week.

Maine’s Land Use Planning Commission, the panel that oversees zoning in the state’s unorganized territories,  deadlocked in a vote this month on whether to authorize the New England Clean Energy Connect corridor.  The visual and environmental impacts on the pond and a specially protected area surrounding it concerned some commissioners.

Supporters and opponents of the project filed responses to CMP’s request with state regulators Thursday. Four of the seven groups that filed responses agreed with reopening the record. Supporters mostly filed brief, straightforward statements of support.


An intervenor group that includes major energy users, the city of Lewiston, an electrical workers’ union and the chamber of commerce said CMP responded to regulatory and public concerns by skirting Beattie Pond with the alternate corridor through a nearby piece of land called Merrill Strip.

“The Merrill Strip alternative should be seen as a good faith effort by CMP to properly improve NECEC,” the group said in its filing. Reopening the record for the limited purpose of reviewing rerouting the corridor by about a mile would be fair and resolve lingering doubts of what might have been and would not significantly delay the process, the intervenors said.

“The regulators and the public should not lose an opportunity for a better project by subordinating the merits to an inflexible view of timeliness,” the group said.

But local opponents and environmental groups asked regulators to reject CMP’s request or, if approved, put it through rigorous public review.

A group of intervenors including the Natural Resources Council of Maine and the Appalachian Mountain Club expressed support for anything that would reduce environmental impact, but “the timing of this new information, and CMP’s disregard for the adequacy of public review and analysis of its proposed project, urge caution.”

The company’s after-the-fact filing continued a “troubling pattern” of incomplete application materials and highlighted the inadequacy of the company’s analysis of alternatives to its proposed route, environmental groups said.


The proposed corridor, to carry Quebec hydropower to Massachusetts, would run mostly across expanded existing power lines but require clearing about 54 miles of untouched woodland. The estimated cost of the project is about $1 billion.

It is unclear how long additional review might delay the process. The company wants to start construction by the end of the year and have the line operational by 2022.

“We are confident that DEP/LUPC will make its decisions on the NECEC project in a timely manner and will not compromise our ability to deliver the project on time,” said Thorn Dickinson, vice president for business development at Avangrid, CMP’s parent company.

Central Maine Power earlier told regulators that it tried to route the corridor through Merrill Strip, but it was not feasible because the landowner asked 50 times fair market value for the land. Bayroot LLC, a investment company owned by Yale University, owns the land and it is managed by Wagner Forest Management.

But in late August, the power company managed to finalize a deal with Bayroot and Wagner for a 17-acre easement over its land, bypassing a protected recreation area around Beattie Pond. The full price of the land deal has not been disclosed, but the company said it would increase the project cost by $950,000.

Friends of the Boundary Mountains, a conservation group from western Maine, said CMP’s reasoning for reopening the record was inadequate and regulators should review its application as submitted, without an amendment.

“CMP claims that the alternative of going through Merrill Strip was rejected due to financial circumstances, but now wants the record open to be able to amend its application to submit this alternative because somehow, magically, the money was found for the alternative,” the group said.

“If the alternative was truly a better environmental and regulatory fit, it should have been included in CMP’s original applications and not presented after the fact given that the record has been closed for many months.”

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