Work on the New England Clean Energy Connect hydropower converter station off outer Main Street in Lewiston is more than half complete Friday. The project was shut down after a citizen initiative in 2021, but resumed last August. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — A major piece of the controversial New England Clean Energy Connect transmission line through central Maine is roughly halfway complete in Lewiston.

The estimated $250 to $300 million converter station off outer Main Street, which will convert direct current from Hydro-Quebec to alternating current for consumer use, made Lewiston one of the transmission line’s most ardent supporters even as other municipalities and a majority of the public opposed it.

According to City Assessor William Healey, the city was paid roughly $5 million in taxes from NECEC in fiscal 2024. When the project is complete, that number is estimated to rise to $8.5 million. The city is so far recognizing $167 million in new value associated with the station.

Following a two-year hiatus due to a citizens’ initiative, the project restarted in August 2023 after a court ruling sided with NECEC.

In its July 1 progress report submitted to the Maine Public Utilities Commission, NECEC said that since construction resumed in Lewiston, the remaining site preparation work and building foundations have been completed. Work is underway to install roofing and siding on the buildings, foundations in the “AC yard and transformer area,” and more.

According to the report, prior to the work stoppage contractors completed a transmission line relocation consisting of 14 new pole installations and 18 pole removals in Lewiston.


The report also states that across the 145-mile project, access is about 81% complete, foundations are 41% complete, pole setting is 31% complete and wire work is 34% complete.

The $1.5 billion project is organized under NECEC Transmission, a subsidiary of Connecticut-based Avangrid Inc., the parent company of Central Maine Power. Both are controlled by Iberdrola, a Spanish multinational energy company.

City officials have long supported the project due to its considerable tax impact in Lewiston.

In 2021, prior to the work stoppage, Lewiston lowered its property tax rate after budget season due to roughly $100 million in new valuation tied to the project.

At the time, Healey said original projections were in the range of $305 million in taxable valuation, meaning an annual tax revenue in the range of $7.3 million when complete. That estimate has now risen to $8.5 million.

Next year, the city’s property tax rate is slated to rise to more than $31 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Voters were for a third time voting on next year’s school budget Tuesday, which has at least partially been caused by resident concerns for rising property taxes, and a looming citywide revaluation underway now.

Healey said Tuesday that he’s hoping that more of the full value of the convertor station will be recognized once the revaluation is complete. However, he said, “We don’t know for sure what the total valuation of the NECEC project will be when it’s completed, nor do we know at this point what the actual tax revenue will be.”

Nate Libby, assistant economic development director, said city staff will soon bring a proposal to the City Council to create a tax increment financing district for the NECEC project. He said the benefit of sheltering a project of this size would mean Lewiston “will not be penalized by having revenue sharing and state aid to education reduced, nor will its county tax obligation increase.”

Libby said staff is not proposing a credit enhancement agreement, where property tax revenue is returned to the developer. Under the staff proposal, he said, the city would retain 100% of the tax revenue for economic development purposes, including “paying the salaries of existing economic development staff, marketing and promotion of the community, and capitalizing the city’s business development low-interest loan fund.”

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