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Aroostook powerline back before legislators

The State House is seen at dawn, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, in Augusta, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
The State House is seen at dawn, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, in Augusta, Maine.

A controversial powerline project from northern to central Maine was back before the legislature Thursday.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission last month cancelled a contract for the billion-dollar, 1,200-megawatt transmission line designed to connect a proposed wind farm in southern Aroostook County with the electrical grid in central Maine.

In a committee hearing Thursday, legislators considered an amended bill to put the project back out to bid, while changing some of the technical specifications, and encouraging earlier cooperation with other states that might be involved.

The bill was opposed by an overflow crowd that included many of the residents of central Maine who have criticized the route of the powerline.

Its sponsor, Senate President Troy Jackson of Allagash, addressed some of the concerns raised.

"It brought up a lot of issues that I had not considered," Jackson said. "And maybe in the end, this is the best, that we get a chance to look at this and make a better proposal going forward."

The bill is supported by The Maine Public Utilities Commission, the Governor's Energy Office, the Maine Public Advocate, and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, among others.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.