Construction of a 145-mile power transmission corridor in western Maine may continue while litigation continues over a 1-mile section that has been leased to the state, a judge ruled State Supreme Court.
Another judge previously canceled a public land lease at Central Maine Power for a 1-mile section, and critics have asked the Supreme Court of Justice to halt all construction until it is settled by the courts .
In a ruling dated Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Jabar dismissed the petition from opponents of the billion-dollar project and allowed construction to continue on all parts except the leased section. .
Quarrels continue over the New England Clean Energy Connect even though the project has been approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Maine Land Use Planning Commission and the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
Last month, a judge called the project into question, declaring the state’s lease for a small section invalid due to the procedures used. This decision is appealed to the State Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, a referendum to strengthen the project is on the November ballot. If approved, there would likely be another trial on the constitutionality of the referendum question.
The transmission line would provide conduit for up to 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydroelectricity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and stabilizing energy costs in New England, supporters say.
Much of it follows existing utility corridors, but a new section is being cut through 53 miles (85 kilometers) of woodland to reach the Canadian border.
The project, which would be fully funded by Massachusetts taxpayers to meet the state’s clean energy goals, calls for the construction of a high-voltage power line between Mount Beattie Township, on the Canadian border, and the regional power grid in Lewiston, Maine.