Just hours after the vote, the result of the Maine referendum is already before the courts. The US partner of Hydro-Quebec asked the Superior Court of Maine on Wednesday to nullify the outcome of the citizens’ initiative, which it considers illegal and unconstitutional.
New England Clean Energy Connect and Central Main Power’s parent company Avangrid are also seeking an injunction to allow construction to continue on the transmission line during court arguments.
On Tuesday, the citizens of Maine voted overwhelmingly to retroactively ban the interconnection project that would allow Hydro-Quebec’s energy to supply Massachusetts for 20 years, a $10 billion contract for the Quebec state company. .
Hydro-Québec and its US partner believe they are on solid ground to win their case before the courts. Hydro-Québec’s CEO, Sophie Brochu, believes the rules of the game will need to be changed after the referendum results.
“It’s like we want to change the score of a hockey game when the game is over, the world is out of the stadium and [qu’on décide de] Add a period,” she commented on Radio-Canada. He said that the project will become a reality.
After obtaining all permits and authorizations required from Maine state and federal government officials, the transmission line has been under construction for one year, reiterated company spokeswoman Lynn Saint-Laurent. State.
A plan B?
From Glasgow, Scotland, where he is attending COP26, Prime Minister François Legault indicated that Quebec’s plan B was to fulfill the contract for exporting electricity to Massachusetts.
There are different routes you can take to get to Massachusetts and different routes. We know the US federal government supports the project, but unfortunately I can’t go further this morning.
With another US partner, Hydro-Québec is looking to build the Champlain Hudson Power Express Line to sell long-term electricity to New York City. Can this interconnection project, which has all the necessary permits, be modified to allow service to Massachusetts without going through Maine?
According to Hydro-Québec, it is not being considered. For now, legal challenge is the only possible way out, the state-owned company said on Wednesday.
Construction work on the line, which is estimated to cost $1 billion, continues as normal. About US 400 million has already been spent by the promoter since the work started.
On Wednesday, opponents of the project, which won the referendum with 59% of the vote, demanded an end to the work, the suspension of the permits granted and the restoration of already deforested land. It is envisaged to take recourse to the courts.
In theory, the results of Tuesday’s referendum should be certified by the state and then have force of law, which is expected in early 2022.
This new detour through the courts will delay a project that is already behind schedule. Hydro-Québec and its partner predicted that the transmission line would be operational in late 2022 and the first deliveries of the contract with Massachusetts would begin in early 2023.
In collaboration with Hugo Pilon-Larose, press, in Glasgow
The authorization process for the interconnection project lasted 33 months. Here is a chronology of permits obtained.
- May 2019: Main Utilities Commission
- June 2019: Massachusetts Department of Public Service
- January 2020: Main Land Use Planning Commission
- May 2020: Main Regional Planning Department
- November 2020: Army Corps of Engineers
- January 2021: US Department of Energy (presidential license)
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