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Hydro-Quebec halts work on its part of hydropower corridor

January 26, 2022 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — With construction halted on a 145-mile (233-kilometer) power line in Maine, a Canadian partner on the project is following suit and temporarily halting construction on the other side of the border.

Hydro-Quebec advised a regulatory agency in Canada that it hopes to be able to resume construction “and remains convinced of the value, merits and importance of the project” that aims to bring up to 1,200 megawatts of hydropower to the New England power grid.

The notification, made a week ago in Canada, was first reported by the Portland Press Herald.

In Maine, environmental regulators suspended a permit after residents rebuked the project in a referendum and the developers suspended construction under pressure from the governor.

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But the suspension could be lifted if the project’s developers win a legal challenge. The matter is currently before the state supreme court.

Central Maine Power and Quebec-Hydro partnered on the $1 billion project dubbed the New England Clean Energy Connect.

Proponents say big renewable energy projects are necessary to address climate change. Critics contend the project is destructive and that its environmental benefits are overstated.

In Maine, construction had begun on the transmission line that would mostly follow existing utility corridors. But a new section was being cut through 53 miles (85 kilometers) of woods to reach the Canadian border.

In Canada, construction was underway on a 60-mile (97-kilometer) Appalaches-Maine interconnection at a cost of $475 million. That project would bring the hydropower to the Maine border.