AUGUSTA, Maine — The U.S. Corps of Army Engineers will hold a December public hearing in Lewiston on Central Maine Power’s proposed $1 billion corridor project to bring Hydro-Quebec power through a 145-mile transmission line through western Maine.
The hearing to be run by the federal agency with permitting authority over the project was announced on Friday by U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from Maine’s 2nd District. He requested the meeting last month citing “a lack of transparency” in the process.
It will be at 4 p.m. on Dec. 5 at the Ramada Inn on Pleasant Street. A proponent of the project will be available to answer questions from the public and the army corps will give information about the permitting process. The agency will then accept public testimony on the proposal.
The corridor has proved to be a lightning rod. More than 20 cities and towns oppose the corridor proposal, which is formally known as the New England Clean Energy Connect, while it is supported by Gov. Janet Mills and the city of Lewiston, which would get $8 million in additional annual tax revenue as the place where the new power would enter the regional grid.
Opponents of the project are gathering signatures for a 2020 referendum that would kill the project. They seem to have a potent case, with a March poll from opponents finding 65 percent opposition among Mainers and far higher opposition in Franklin and Somerset counties.
The corridor won a key permit from the Maine Public Utilities Commission in April. It faces permitting decisions from four other federal and state agencies including the army corps before it is allowed to move forward. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has said its decision is expected to come this fall.