Natural Resources Council of Maine seeks intervenor status in Avangrid lawsuit against state

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Nov. 10—The Natural Resources Council of Maine and six Yes on 1 supporters have asked the Maine Superior Court to grant them intervenor status in the lawsuit that Avangrid, Central Maine Power's parent company, filed against the state following defeat of the utility company's transmission corridor line.

Avangrid's lawsuit seeks to nullify a new law banning construction of the CMP corridor. The new law, which appeared on the Nov. 2 ballot as Question 1, was overwhelmingly approved by Maine voters during the statewide referendum. Despite its passage, Avangrid filed the lawsuit on behalf of its subsidiary, the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission line corridor, on Nov. 3. claiming it was unconstitutional.

On Tuesday, the NRCM filed a motion in Portland Superior Court requesting intervenor status, a designation that will give Maine's largest environmental advocacy organization and six referendum initiative proponents — Thomas Saviello, Christine Geisser, Wendy Huish, Jonathan Hull, Theresa York and Robert Yorks — an interest in any future legal proceedings.

"Our action today is aimed directly at protecting the will of Maine voters, who last week sent the clear and resounding message that the CMP corridor should be terminated. Avangrid has, in effect, filed a lawsuit against the people of Maine, demonstrating brazen disregard for the more than 235,000 Mainers who voted Yes on Question 1," Pete Didisheim, NRCM's advocacy director, said in a statement. "CMP and Hydro-Quebec spent more than $72 million over the past two years to tell Mainers how to vote, and their gambit failed."

Didisheim accused CMP of "amassing an army of lawyers to try to overturn the election results in court, even while they are rushing to clearcut a 53-mile corridor through Western Maine that voters want to protect." Didisheim said Maine voters have spoken and urged the courts to reject Avangrid's suit and to terminate construction of the energy transmission corridor.

Avangrid issued a statement after filing its lawsuit in Superior Court in Portland in which it defended its rights to continue building the transmission corridor.

"The NECEC represents a billion dollar investment in the clean energy future of New England. It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of removing 700,000 cars from the road each year the project is in service," Avangrid stated. "The NECEC represents a billion dollar investment in the clean energy future of New England, and substantial physical construction has occurred."

Avangrid said the ballot initiative "represents an extraordinary attempt to deprive a private party of vested rights in the construction and operation of a multiyear development project. ... NECEC has commenced significant, physical construction of the project in good faith with the intention to carry it through to completion."

NRCM also has filed a brief with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection calling for an immediate suspension of CMP's permit. The brief filed with the Maine DEP states that the DEP's "ongoing delays and failure to act are unfathomable." The Maine DEP has scheduled a hearing on Nov. 22 to consider suspension of the CMP permit based on the result of the election.

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