The Canada Energy Regulator (CER) has issued the permit authorizing the construction and operation of the Appalaches-Maine Interconnection line. This energy infrastructure will link to the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) line, whose construction began in Maine in February 2021. The project now has all the permits required for construction, from Saint-Adrien-d’Irlande in Québec to the City of Lewiston in Maine.
The CER’s authorization comes after a 21-month evaluation, which included a period for public comment.
“This green light recognizes the significant work carried out to date by our teams and our partners in the communities,” said Sophie Brochu, president and CEO of Hydro-Québec. “We are going ahead with a project that respects the highest environmental and engineering standards, and that has been favorably received by the various host communities.”
Work will begin in the coming weeks, with commissioning slated for 2023.
The route selected in Quebec for the 320-kV direct current line extends 100 km between Appalaches substation in Saint-Adrien-d’Irlande (near Thetford Mines) and a connection point in the municipality of Frontenac in Estrie on the Quebec-Maine border. The project also calls for the installation of a converter at Appalaches substation, which will convert alternating current to direct current to supply the new interconnection. The length of the line route in Maine is 233 km.
Once completed, the new interconnection will increase the exchange capacity between Québec and New England by 1,200 megawatts (MW). The interconnection will supply Massachusetts with 9.45 terawatthours (TWh) of clean Québec hydropower annually for 20 years. In addition, through an agreement signed with Maine last summer, Maine will receive 0.5 TWh annually for 20 years.
The clean and renewable energy provided to Maine and Massachusetts will help avoid over 3 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually—the equivalent of taking 700,000 vehicles off the roads.
This project was the focus of a provincial environmental assessment and review procedure, which includes a review by the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE), Québec’s office for public hearings on the environment. In its report, BAPE concluded that the proposed line route is acceptable from the standpoint of the biophysical and human environment thanks to Hydro-Québec’s optimization efforts and planned mitigation measures.
The BAPE also determined that the electricity transmitted via the interconnection will contribute to the decarbonization of the economies of Maine and Massachusetts. The project was also approved by the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec and by the Régie de l’énergie du Québec.