The developers of an electricity transmission corridor through western Maine who agreed to halt construction last week at the request of Gov. Janet Mills said they also are suspending payments they were making as part of the project.

Avangrid Networks, the parent of Central Maine Power Co. and power line developer NECEC Transmission LLC, released Wednesday the letter it sent to Mills last Friday, saying that stopping work on the corridor also would result in a halt to the roughly $250 million in benefits that it promised to the state to win Mills’ support for the $1 billion project.

“As a result (of stopping construction), we will also need to suspend the numerous benefit payments for electric rate relief, low-income energy customers, heat pumps, broadband expansion, educational funding, and economic development programming consistent with the applicable orders of the Public Utilities Commission,” Catherine Stempien, Avangrid Networks’ president and CEO, said in the letter.

The letter, which also was signed by NECEC CEO Thorn Dickinson and CMP President Joseph Purington, also warned that suspension of the project will have an impact on sales and income taxes generated by the project and the workers hired to construct it. The letter said the decision “will cause substantial pain to hundreds of Maine families” because work will cease.

The governor’s office couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday evening, when an email to Mills’ spokesperson generated an autoreply saying that state offices are closed Thursday and Friday.

The transmission corridor would carry hydroelectric power generated in Canada to a New England transmission grid hub in Lewiston and ultimately to electric customers in Massachusetts, who are footing the bill for the project. Mills and NECEC officials announced the voluntary suspension last Friday, but the text of the letter agreeing to halt work wasn’t released until Wednesday night.


NECEC sparked controversy by deciding to continue work on the project this month after 60 percent of Maine voters approved a referendum on Nov. 2 that is designed to block the transmission line corridor. NECEC also filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of the measure and has asked for, but hasn’t yet received, a temporary injunction barring enforcement of the measure while the lawsuit proceeds.

Of the approximately $250 million in benefits to Maine, about $18 million already have been paid and municipalities have collected approximately $3.4 million in property taxes related to the project, according to court documents Avangrid filed as part of its request for a preliminary injunction.

Tuesday, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection suspended NECEC’s license for the transmission line because the viability of the project is now in doubt. That decision supersedes NECEC’s voluntary suspension, and the DEP said it will stay in place unless NECEC gets a temporary injunction or courts rule on the company’s challenge of the referendum.

In her letter to NECEC, Mills asked the company to respect the will of the voters by halting work on the project. She also said that while the legal challenges were dealt with, she would continue to monitor the service to Mainers provided by CMP and other utilities.

That service, she wrote, “continues to fall short,” a line that the developers pushed back on.

That “may be your perception, but it does not square with the facts,” the letter to Mills said, asserting that CMP has met service quality metrics set by the Maine Public Utilities Commission for the past 20 months.

The letter ended by saying that “we are not quitting on NECEC.”

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