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March 18, 2019

PUC revises deadlines in CMP's $950M hydropower transmission case

Photo / New England Clean Energy Connect The 145-mile transmission line route proposed by Central Maine Power for its $950 million New England Clean Energy Connect.

March 28 is the new deadline for the much-anticipated Examiners’ Report in the Maine Public Utilities Commission’s 17-month review of Maine Power Co.'s $950 million New England Clean Energy Connect transmission project.

April 8 remains the deadline for exceptions and comments to be filed in response.

On March 13, the examiners issued a revised schedule that set April 1 as the deadline for their report and April 8 as the deadline for exceptions and comments to be filed.

Two days later the Natural Resources Council of Maine — which opposes CMP’s proposed settlement reached on Feb. 21 with the Governor’s Energy Office, the Public Advocate’s Office, Industrial Energy Users Group and other intervenors — submitted a letter asking that the deadline for exceptions and comments be extended from April 8 to April 12.

Writing on behalf of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Susan Ely noted that both the Department of Environmental Protection and the Land Use Planning Commission had scheduled hearings on CMP's project from April 1 through April 5.

"Given the convergence of these two deadlines, it will be difficult for NRCM to respond to the Examiner's Report without an extension of time," she wrote.

On March 15, PUC’s examiners denied NRCM’s request, citing “commission scheduling constraints.”

The examiners, however, agreed to accelerate their own deadline for the Examiners’ Report, setting March 28 as the new date for its filing. Doing so, they wrote, would give all parties more time to prepare exceptions and comments on the report, which typically would include "a recommendation" to the three-member commission and is usually a good indicator of what the final decision might be.

Deadline for filing comments and exceptions to the Examiners’ Report remains April 8.

CMP's Feb. 21 stipulation outlines almost $1 billion of state and community benefits that the utility and 10 signatories of the 50-page proposal say the project would provide if it's approved by the state and other regulatory bodies.

Parties signing off on CMP's Feb. 21 stipulation include the Governor's Energy Office; Office of the Public Advocate; Conservation Law Foundation; Acadia Center; Industrial Energy Consumers Group; Maine State Chamber of Commerce; Western Mountains and Rivers; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and the city of Lewiston. 

In addition to NRCM, parties opposed include ReEnergy Biomass Operations LLC, NextEra Energy Resources LLC, Calpine Corp., Vistra Energy Corp., Bucksport Generation LLC, RENEW Northeast Inc. and Maine Renewable Energy Association.

CMP's proposed 145-mile transmission project to deliver 1,200 megawatts of renewable energy generated by Hydro-Quebec to Massachusetts faces additional regulatory reviews by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Maine Land Use Planning Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

If successful in gaining approvals from PUC and the other regulatory parties, the project’s final hurdle will be to receive a Presidential Permit, which is required for all electric transmission lines that cross the U.S. international border and involve imports of electricity generated by another country. That authorization is expected by December.

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