Maine Public Utilities Commission issued a procedural order last week to extend the review period for Central Maine Power’s $950 million New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission project into next year. The commission released a revised schedule of hearings and conferences that will run from the end of November to March 2019 in order to the comply with the demand for more information from NECEC opponents, which include an unlikely alliance of environmental groups and companies that own coal and natural gas-powered electricity generators that would be financially harmed by the project. On Monday, the Department of Environmental Protection also requested more information about the project’s environmental impact on recreational and scenic areas.

CMP spokesman John Carroll said the PUC’s order extends the process, but not beyond any timeline that has been set.

“This is a large, complicated case,” he said. “We’ve been through a few rounds of submissions. After each one, all of those materials are reviewed and if there are pieces missing then they ask for more information. The last submission we made back in October, I think it was addressing 29 different questions that they had. What we got back from that is that, well, there are four more areas that we want you to address with additional information.”

In recent months public opposition from environmentalists, sportsmen and snowmobilers has also been growing against the proposed 146-mile electrical transmission line that would transmit 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower through western Maine down to Massachusetts. Sue Ely, Clean Energy Attorney of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said the PUC’s decision was a “welcome acknowledgment” that the process has been “moving too fast for a thorough analysis of this massive, incredibly complex and flawed project.”

“The documents that are just coming to light raise serious questions about where this power will actually come from and what the real impact on the climate and Maine electricity rates will be,” said Ely in a statement. “Unfortunately CMP has asked the PUC to keep its communications with Hydro-Quebec confidential. But what we have reviewed so far reinforces our concerns that this project will cause significant harm to Maine’s environment while failing to reduce harmful climate pollution at all. Maine people deserve a PUC decision based on facts, and that requires due process, not a rush to judgment.”