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September 01, 2020 1:26pm
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AVANGRID: Maine Supreme Court Rules State-Issued Lease for NECEC Transmission Project Valid

In a long-anticipated decision, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court today ruled that the State of Maine acted within its constitutional authority in granting a lease to NECEC developers for the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission line project. When completed, the project will connect 1,200MW of clean hydropower to the New England electrical grid.

The following is a statement from Scott Mahoney, Senior Vice President – General Counsel at AVANGRID:

“Today’s ruling by the Law Court is yet another step in the right direction for Maine’s renewable energy future. The serious need for the NECEC project to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, combat climate change, and lower regional energy prices remains unchanged. For the past three years, despite opposition funding by fossil fuel interests, every regulatory body at the local, state, and federal level has thoroughly reviewed the New England Clean Energy Connect and all agree the NECEC is beneficial for Mainers. We are pleased with today’s ruling and look forward to determining our next steps for this critical project.”

The court issued its decision in a 50-page ruling, which can be found here. Key sections follow:

“Based on the lack of any “significant and legitimate” countervailing public purpose to justify the voiding of the 2020 lease, we conclude that the Contract Clause does not permit the impairment caused by section 1 of the Initiative (page 34).

The relevant facts in the administrative record are free of ambiguity or dispute. The two tracts of public reserved lands in question— Johnson Mountain and West Forks Plantation—occupy a combined area of 1,241 acres in the Upper Kennebec Region. Their physical characteristics include water bodies, wetlands, and primarily standing timber. There are no unique features or protected areas on either tract. Their predominant use has been for timber harvesting every twenty years, but there are also recreational facilities and an existing 100-foot-wide, three-mile-long utility transmission line on the tracts. The essential purposes of the tracts are to support the multiple uses currently being made of them consistent with the Bureau’s management plans (page 46-47).

Given the uses, physical characteristics, and essential purposes of the Johnson Mountain and West Forks Plantation tracts, we see no reasonable basis for deciding that a second utility transmission line occupying 2.6% of the combined tracts could significantly alter the physical characteristics of so much of the remaining 97.4% that the multiple-use purposes for which the tracts are held would be frustrated (page 48).”

About AVANGRID: AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) aspires to be the leading sustainable energy company in the United States. Headquartered in Orange, CT with approximately $40 billion in assets and operations in 24 U.S. states, AVANGRID has two primary lines of business: Avangrid Networks and Avangrid Renewables. Avangrid Networks owns and operates eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving more than 3.3 million customers in New York and New England. Avangrid Renewables owns and operates a portfolio of renewable energy generation facilities across the United States. AVANGRID employs more than 7,000 people and has been recognized by JUST Capital in 2021 and 2022 as one of the JUST 100 companies – a ranking of America’s best corporate citizens. In 2022, AVANGRID ranked second within the utility sector for its commitment to the environment and the communities it serves. The company supports the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and was named among the World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2022 for the fourth consecutive year by the Ethisphere Institute. AVANGRID is a member of the group of companies controlled by Iberdrola, S.A. For more information, visit

About Iberdrola: Iberdrola is one of the world's biggest energy companies and a leader in renewables, spearheading the energy transition to a low carbon economy. The group supplies energy to almost 100 million people in dozens of countries. With a focus on renewable energy, smart networks and smart solutions for customers, Iberdrola’s main markets include Europe (Spain, the United Kingdom, Portugal, France, Germany, Italy and Greece), the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Australia. The company is also present in growth markets such as Japan, Taiwan, Ireland, Sweden and Poland, among others.

With a workforce of nearly 40,000 and assets in excess of €141.7 billion, the company posted revenues of €39 billion and a net profit of over €3.9 billion in 2021. Across the world, Iberdrola helps to support 400,000 jobs across its supply chain, with annual procurement of €12.2 billion. A benchmark in the fight against climate change, Iberdrola has invested more than €130 billion over the past two decades to help build a sustainable energy model, based on sound environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles.


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