NECEC lays out legal argument against power line ban in newly filed legal briefs

The developers of the 145-mile transmission line are appealing a lower court's ruling to the state supreme court, saying it is unconstitutionally retroactive.

By Edward D. Murphy Staff Writer


Lawyers representing developers of the stalled $1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect corridor in Maine have filed new court documents alleging that a successful referendum blocking the project is an unconstitutionally retroactive law.

In briefs filed Wednesday with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, the lawyers said the referendum known as Question 1, adopted by voters in November, “would chill future economic development in Maine, frustrate efforts to address climate change and violate basic constitutional principles.”

The briefs were submitted Wednesday in advance of a hearing before the state’s top court, scheduled for May.

NECEC Transmission LLC, a subsidiary of Central Maine Power Co. and its parent firm, Avangrid Networks, began work a year ago on the 145-mile transmission line to bring electricity from Quebec to Lewiston, but opponents successfully pushed a referendum to block construction. The transmission line was to connect to the electric grid in Lewiston, and the Canadian-generated hydropower was ultimately destined for consumers in Massachusetts................................

In December, a Maine Business and Consumer Court judge turned down a preliminary injunction sought by the developers to block implementation of the referendum adopted by voters the month before. NECEC Transmission and Avangrid are appealing that ruling to the state Supreme Court.

“This appeal presents a momentous question,” the briefs begin. “Is there any limit on the electorate’s power to change a law retroactively to ban a specific development project, despite prior executive and judicial approval of the project and the developer’s expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars to build a substantial portion of the project in good faith reliance on those approvals?

“According to the Business and Consumer Court, there is no effective limit on this power,” the briefs state. “That answer is not, and cannot be, correct.”

In the briefs, the developers’ lawyers say the Maine Constitution bars the Legislature from actions depriving “a developer of the right to complete a project, after executive agencies have issued final permits … authorizing construction and operation of the project, and after substantial construction has been undertaken and substantial expenditures have been made.”

The briefs say the state Supreme Court had previously upheld some of the permits for the project after they were challenged by opponents.

The briefs also argue that retroactive laws are unconstitutional and say the company has vested rights in being allowed to proceed with the project because it had already invested $450 million on supplies and contracts for construction of the power line.

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Comment by arthur qwenk on February 17, 2022 at 5:55pm

Maine has always been its own economic worst enemy.

Perhaps more Mainers will understand this as the push toward" Unreliable " energy sources like wind and solar  goes over 25 cents a KWH, and they finally feel the economic pain of keeping the lights on.

"General Mills" was right on this one when she approved NECEC  for the future.


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

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