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CMP’s subsidiary prepares contingency plans for NECEC project [free access]

October 12, 2021

The USD1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), which is being developed by Central Maine Power’s (CMP) special purpose vehicle NECEC LLC, is facing delays due to various challenges. CMP’s parent company Avangrid Inc. announced that it has spent more than USD350 million on the project so far, and that NECEC LLC is developing contingency plans for working around legal and permitting challenges to an important public lands lease.


NECEC controls almost all the power line route except for a 0.9-mile stretch that passes through state-owned public land. Subsequent to an August 2021 ruling by a Maine Superior Court judge that the Maine Bureau of Public Lands did not follow proper procedures to ensure that the lease would not result in substantial alteration to public land, Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is scheduled to hold a public hearing on whether it should suspend NECEC’s environmental license.


The company, in its pre-filing with the environment regulators, has stated that a suspension of NECEC’s licence and the following legal appeal will cause a nine-month construction delay, making the project impossible to complete by December 2023. It would also disrupt plans to be in service by the August 2024 contract date with Massachusetts’ utilities, and that a 12-month delay would cost NECEC an additional USD67 million.


If NECEC is unable to secure its public lands lease or get clearance for an alternate route, the project might be cancelled and a decommissioning plan implemented, which would remove all poles and foundations and enable cleared areas to regrow.


The proposed NECEC project is expected to provide a new link through a ±320 kV high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line between Québec in Canada and the New England grid, with the capacity to deliver up to 1,200 MW of power. From the US–Canadian border, the line will run through a forest area for 53 miles (85 km) before merging with an existing CMP-owned transmission line right-of-way (RoW) in The Forks, Somerset County, Maine. The power line will run for a total of 145 miles (234 km) to connect with a new DC/AC converter substation in Lewiston, Maine.