The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted on July 22 to grant Bangor Hydro-Electric Company's Northeast Reliability Interconnect (NRI) project a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN). This approval brings the NRI and its benefits for the Maine and New England electric systems one step closer to becoming a reality.

Rob Bennett, Bangor Hydro-Electric Company vice president and general manager, in commenting on the PUC approval, acknowledged that this is a significant milestone for the project. He also noted, however, that the company is still in the design and permitting phase of the NRI Project.

"We are extremely appreciative of the input provided by the various stakeholders throughout this process to date, and are continuing to work with and be responsive to a range of environmental stakeholders," he said.

In addition to this PUC approval, the Federal Department of Energy, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and the Army Corps of Engineers are all evaluating this project in relation to their respective permits.

The proposed NRI would connect the large substation in Orrington, Maine, to a similar line being built by New Brunswick Power. Although Maine shares more than 600 miles of border with Canada, only one major transmission line links Maine with the Maritimes. Improving the electrical infrastructure supports security of service and supply for all types of customers. Constructing the NRI will provide long-term reliability, efficiency and market benefits to Maine, New England and the Maritimes.