In the face of recent facts set out by bedrock Maine institutions — the Maine Law Court and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) — it’s time to re-consider the Clean Energy Corridor.

In August, a unanimous court found it unconstitutional for voters to repeal the project’s PUC permit if the developer “undertook substantial construction consistent with and in good-faith reliance [on]” the permit. A lower court will make that determination.

Then, last week, the PUC accepted bids for 2023 Standard Offer electricity supply rates. Ratepayers will face sharp increases (34% to 49%) on top of a punishing 80+% increase this year.

It is no small matter for the Law Court to overrule a voter majority, but it is also no small matter for a referendum to overturn five federal and state regulatory approvals. As electricity prices escalate and the legal process unfolds, it’s important to take stock of the adverse climate and energy changes since last November’s referendum.

A devastating war and supply vulnerabilities are intensifying energy price spikes and unpredictability, especially for natural gas. And this year’s worldwide climate catastrophes underscore the urgency of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Natural gas fuels most New England electricity generation, ratcheting-up our electric bills. New England’s average natural gas price this January was four times greater than a year before, driving an 83% increase in Maine’s energy supply rate. And rates are set to ratchet up again this winter.


Mainers, like all the New Englanders with whom we share the electric grid, will remain vulnerable to price volatility as long as we continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels to power our homes, businesses, and transportation.

Last November, Maine shortsightedly rejected a major new source of clean, reliable and affordable electricity: hydropower from neighboring Québec. Connecting directly into our regional grid, the 1,200 megawatt project would supply consumers across New England, including in Maine, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and vulnerability to natural gas price spikes.

In addition,

Impartial state evaluators concluded that the project would exert downward pressure on electric rates: up to $496 million in cost savings to Maine rate payers over the 20 year contract (p.28).

• Building the Clean Energy Corridor would support 1,600 good-paying jobs (p.45).

• The hydropower would eliminate 3 million tons of carbon pollution yearly — equal to emissions from 700,000 cars (p.72). These climate benefits have been independently verified by the U.S. Department of Energy (p.56) and analysis commissioned by the PUC.


• Additional benefits include funding for electric vehicle infrastructure, 50,000 acres of permanent land conservation (fifty times the project’s footprint), investment in rural broadband and added tax revenues for host communities.

This past April, New York State chose a different path — approving a clean energy project that will deliver 1,250 megawatts of hydropower from Quebec to New York City. Hydropower will help New York City wean itself from its extreme fossil fuel dependency. And the project will create thousands of jobs and new revenue for communities along the transmission corridor.

Why did New York embrace clean Quebec hydropower while Maine rejected it? In part because Maine’s ballot initiative was weaponized by three fossil energy companies seeking to protect their profits. NextEra Energy, Energy Capital Partners/Calpine, Vistra Energy — all among the nation’s 10 worst carbon polluters — collectively funded 99% of the campaign to stop Clean Energy Connect. Today, their war-time windfall profits are coming at ratepayers’ expense.

Mainers must dig deep to pay for over-priced, climate-threatening electricity. Worse, our continuing reliance on fossil fuels empowers autocrats like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Mohamed Bin Salman.

The Maine Law Court and the PUC have given us reasons to reconsider. In view of all that has happened since they voted last November — soaring electric rates, global energy insecurity and frightening climate disasters — we hope Mainers will have open minds.

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