In August, a judge ruled that the CMP corridor did not have a valid permit from the state’s Public Lands Office to cross a mile-long section of land on the road.
AUGUSTA, Maine – The CMP Corridor Project – the New England Clean Energy Connect – faces another major challenge from state regulators and has outlined potential alternative routes for part of the corridor to address the issue .
In August, Superior Court Judge Michaela Murphy ruled that the project did not have a valid permit from the state’s Public Lands Office to cross a mile-long section of land on the road near the township. by Johnson Mountain. The NECEC appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Maine. Construction of the new 53-mile section of the corridor continues, although the company has been ordered not to cut off the public land portion of the road.
On Tuesday, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection began a public hearing to decide whether to order a halt to all construction of the new section of the corridor, until the court appeal is ruled. . Thorn Dickinson of NECEC said the case may not be decided until June and that stopping construction for such a long time would cost them a lot of money.
“A break of this nature in construction will lead to very complex demobilization and (then) remobilization of construction. We estimate the cost based on a 12 month delay in overall construction would be around $ 67 million, ”Dickinson said.
He added that even if the court ruling was in the company’s favor, it would take weeks or months to bring the contractors and workers back and get back to work. This time, he said, would delay the completion of the project.
NECEC opponents retorted that the issue was related to damage to the environment while the court dealt with the long appeal. They criticized the NECEC for not asking the court for a faster timetable, which it could have done.
Opponents said if the section of public land could not be used, the long clearcut corridor would cause damage to the forest, some of which could be avoided if cutting was stopped pending the decision.
Thorn Dickinson also showed a map of two alternative corridor routes being considered to avoid the disputed section of public land. One follows a route east of this terrain, then reconnects to the current corridor lines. The second would be a major detour, moving west of Route 201 and roughly parallel to that route, eventually crossing the Dead River and the Kennebec near The Forms, finally connecting to the existing section of the line. CMP transport to a very different location than the current NECEC route.
Opponents, however, have cast cold water on these plans. They said the two alternate routes also require crossing protected land and letters from groups holding conservation easements for those lands say they will not allow transmission lines. Dickinson said the company believed the line would be licensed.
It is not known how soon the DEP is likely to make a decision.