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November 4, 2021

Election follow-up: Embattled CMP corridor heads to court, while Bar Harbor restricts short-term rentals

Maine voters made clear some anti-business opinions with opposition to the $1 billion CMP Corridor and a separate effort to cap short-term rentals in Bar Harbor.

Maine voters overwhelmingly supported Question 1, which seeks to block the New England Clean Energy Connect transmission project that would bring hydropower from Quebec to the New England region. About 124 miles of the transmission corridor have already been cleared in western Maine.

Avangrid Inc. (NYSE: AGR), the parent company of Central Maine Power and NECEC Transmission LLC, quickly filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, saying Question 1 was unconstitutional and violated state and federal laws.

The lawsuit, filed in Maine Superior Court in Portland, also contended that the effort was an attempt to cancel a 25-year lease between NECEC and the state of Maine and violated contract clauses intended to protect the sanctity of such contracts from intrusion by the government.

NECEC also asks the Superior Court for an immediate injunction preventing retroactive enforcement of the initiative against the project, so that ongoing construction was not disrupted while this lawsuit proceeds before the courts. NECEC expects the Superior Court to rule on the injunction request promptly.

“I was angered to learn of Avangrid’s legal strategy to overturn the will of an overwhelming majority of Maine voters,” said Sandra Howard, director of No CMP Corridor. “The people of Maine strongly and clearly rejected the NECEC project at the ballot box. CMP should respect the vote of Maine citizens and immediately stop the continued destruction of our precious forest and its habitat.”

Bar Harbor limits short-term rentals

Separately, voters in Bar Harbor on Tuesday passed a new local ordinance to restrict vacation rental housing there.

Under the new rule, short-term rentals that are not occupied by the owner will have a minimum length of stay of four nights and be capped at 9% of the total units in town. Units that are owner-occupied will be allowed with fewer restrictions.

Rentals that are registered with the town before the ordinance takes effect on Dec. 2 may continue operating if they maintain their registration every year.

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