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The Rural Maine Reporting Project is made possible through the generous support of the Betterment Fund.

On day 5 of corridor jury trial, attorneys for CMP's parent company rest their case

Construction has started on Central Maine Power's corridor that is meant to carry hydroelectric power from Quebec through Maine to Massachusetts, although the project still faces numerous legal and other challenges.
Brian Bechard
/
Maine Public
Construction has started on Central Maine Power's corridor that is meant to carry hydroelectric power from Quebec through Maine to Massachusetts, although the project still faces numerous legal and other challenges.

Attorneys for Central Maine Power's parent company Friday rested their case in a jury trial that could revive the company's $1 billion transmission project after voters halted it in 2021. The plaintiffs ended with a pair of witnesses intended to bolster the case against the referendum, but who were also questioned by defense attorneys about getting paid for their analysis.

Attorneys for Avangrid, the plaintiff in the case and owner of the New England of the Clean Energy Connect project, attempted to solidify two key claims.

The first is that project developers spent and constructed enough to make a vested rights claim that could overturn the referendum. The second is to demonstrate to jurors that developers didn't rush construction for the sole purpose of making that vested rights claim.

They ended their case by calling two witnesses for FTI Consulting, a firm hired by plaintiffs to provide their analysis.

One of FTI's consultants, David Berkowitz, testified that developers never expedited their work schedule to beat the 2021 referendum because they were always behind due to permitting delays and construction and legal challenges.

That assessment was challenged by assistant attorney general Sarah Coleman, who is defending the Public Utilities Commission in the case.

She countered that under Berkowtiz's definition, no project could be expedited if it fell behind its original schedule, and she also highlighted the amount of money FTI has been paid since plaintiffs challenged the referendum in 2021.

."So, FTI has been paid about a half-million dollars for its work on this case," Coleman asked.

"All I know is FTI has billed a half-million dollars as of this invoice," Berkowitz replied.

The defense began its case Friday afternoon and is expected to finish Tuesday.

Final arguments are scheduled for Wednesday.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.