Maine Bill Would Prevent Hydro-Quebec From Spending To Influence Referendum On Powerline

Mar 5, 2020

The Maine Legislature will consider an emergency bill that could prohibit Hydro-Quebec from spending money to influence a potential referendum on a controversial powerline project running through western Maine.

The bill is in response to reporting by Maine Public highlighting a gap in state and federal laws that allows foreign nationals or corporations to participate in or contribute to ballot campaigns.

Independent Rep. Kent Ackley is sponsoring the proposal after expressing concerns that Hydro-Quebec has formed a ballot committee to campaign for the project, which Mainers could vote on in the November election.

Hydro-Quebec’s sole shareholder is the government of Quebec. The company would supply the power for the transmission project known as the New England Clean Energy Connect.

Ackley’s bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Sara Gideon.

The bill was referenced Thursday to the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which has not yet scheduled a public hearing.