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Maine Utility Line Permit (8-ME-d)

In Maine, a developer may need a Utility Line Permit from the Maine Land Use Planning Commission (MLUPC) to construct a transmission line with a capacity of up to 99 kV located on, across, or under MLUPC land. 35-A M.R.S. § 3132-A. Typically most bulk transmission projects have a capacity of 100 kV or more and require a Site Location of Development Permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP). However, if a proposed project is located on MLUPC land and has a capacity of up to 99 kV, and does not trigger MDEP review, a developer may need a Utility Line Permit (Permit) from the MLUPC before construction begins. Maine Land Use Planning Commission Webpage. The MLUPC regulates development on state MLUPC land pursuant to Maine – Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 12, §§ 685-B et seq., Development review and approval; Land Use Districts and Standards.


Utility Line Permit Process

8-ME-d.1– Contact Maine Land Use Planning Commission (MLUPC)

If a proposed project is located on MLUPC land, the developer should contact the MLUPC to determine applicable permits and requirements for the proposed project. Different subdistricts within MLUPC jurisdiction have different permit thresholds for transmission projects. Information regarding MLUPC subdistricts and development criteria is outlined in the MLUPC’s rules regarding Land Use Districts and Standards.

8-ME-d.2 – Utility Line Permit Application

If the project involves transmission lines with a capacity of up to 99 kV or more, then the developer may need a Utility Line Permit (Permit) before beginning construction on MLUPC land.

To apply for a Permit, the developer should submit a complete Maine State Land Right-of-Way Utility Line Permit Application (Application) to the MLUPC. All applications and forms must be completed, signed by the applicant (developer), and accompanied by the following:

  • “A plan of the proposed structure, subdivision or development showing the intended use of the real estate, the proposed change, the details of the project and such other information as may be required by the commission to determine conformance with applicable land use standards;”
  • A fee of at least $50, “but no greater than ¼ of 1% of the total developments cost;”
  • “Evidence of sufficient right, title or interest in all of the property that is proposed for development or use;” and
  • If the project requires “an annual supply of wood or wood-derived materials in excess of 150,000 tons green weight” the project developer also provide “a wood supply plan for informational purposes to the Maine Forest Service at the time of application.”

Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 12 § 685-B(2).

Note: If a project involves constructing distribution lines, a project developer may need to file a Service Drop Authorization Form and should consult the MLUPC prior to beginning construction. Land Use Districts and Standards.

8-ME-d.3 to 8-ME-d.4 – Review Application for Completeness

The MLUPC must review the Application for administrative and technical completeness.

8-ME-d.5 – Review Application for Approval

The MLUPC may not approve an Application unless the project conforms to state and local environmental regulations and developers possess all the necessary environmental permits. Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 12 § 685-B(4).

8-ME-d.6 to 8-ME-d.8 – Hold Hearing (If Applicable)

The MLUPC may determine to hold a hearing on the Application. If the MLUPC makes a Permit determination without a hearing, the MLUPC must make a determination either granting or denying the Permit within 90 days of receiving a complete Permit Application. Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 12 § 685-B(3-A)(A-B).

8-ME-d.9 – Petition for Exemption

If the MLUPC denies the Permit, and this denial prevents the project from moving forward, the developer may petition the Maine Public Utilities Commission (Maine PUC) for an exemption from land use regulations. Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 12, § 685-A(11). “Real estate used or to be used by a public utility,...or a person who is issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity by the Maine PUC … may be wholly or partially exempted from regulation…when, upon timely petition, notice and public hearing, the Maine PUC determines that such exemption is necessary or desirable for the public welfare or convenience.” Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 12, § 685-A(11).

A project developer may only Petition for Exemption after the developer has requested and been denied the applicable MLUPC or municipal permits, and the denial prohibits development of the project, significantly increases project costs, or renders the project economically infeasible. 65-407-885 Me. Code R. § 3(B).

A Petition for Exemption must include the following:

  • A copy of the MLUPC or municipal regulation from which an exemption is sought;
  • A copy of the MLUPC or municipal decision granting or denying the necessary permit;
  • A statement explaining the denial of the permit demonstrating that the denial prevents the project from moving forward or has rendered it uneconomic; and
  • A statement explaining why the exemption is necessary or desirable for the public welfare and convenience. 65-407-885 Me. Code R. § 3(E).

8-ME-d.10 – Provide the MLUPC or Municipality with a Copy of the Exemption Petition

Upon filing a Petition for Exemption with the Maine PUC, the developer must provide the corresponding municipality or MLUPC office with a copy of the Petition. 65-407-885 Me. Code R. § 4.

8-ME-d.11 to 8-ME-d.12 – Provide Notice of Exemption Petition

After the developer files a Petition for Exemption, the Maine PUC must provide notice of the filing to all interested parties, and an opportunity for intervention to the following parties:

  • The impacted municipality;
  • The MLUPC;
  • All parties in any prior Maine PUC proceeding involving approval of the project;
  • All parties to the MLUPC proceeding considering the project; and
  • All other interested persons.

If an interested person intervenes, then the interested person becomes a party to the Maine PUC public hearing on the Petition for Exemption. 65-407-885 Me. Code R. § 4.

8-ME-d.13 to 8-ME-d.14 – Hold Public Hearing

The Maine PUC must hold a public hearing, considering the Petition for Exemption and provide all parties with the opportunity to submit evidence. 65-407-885 Me. Code R. § 4.

8-ME-d.15 to 8-ME-d.16 – Review Petition for Approval

Upon considering the Petition for Exemption, the Maine PUC reviews the Petition for Exemption for approval. In determining whether to grant or deny a Petition for Exemption, the Maine PUC considers whether whole or partial exemption is necessary for the project to proceed, and whether the project is in the public interest. 65-407-885 Me. Code R. § 5. Upon making a determination on the Petition for Exemption, the Maine PUC issues an Order on the Exemption. 65-407-885 Me. Code R. § 4.

8-ME-d.17 to 8-ME-d.19 – Consult MLUPC to Determine Condition for Land Use

If a project is wholly or partially exempt from additional land use restrictions, the MLUPC may still imposed terms and conditions for the project. Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 12, § 685-A(11). The developer should consult the MLUPC to determine the applicable terms and conditions for land use.

8-ME-d.20 – Appeal Decision (Optional)

If a developer seeks to appeal an MLUPC decision, the developer may not file a Petition for Exemption while the review or appeal proceeding is pending. Before appealing a land use determination to the MLUPC, the developer should file a Petition for Exemption with the Maine PUC. 65-407-885 Me. Code R. § 3(D).

A project developer seeking to appeal a permit determination with the MLUPC where the MLUPC did not hold a hearing “may, within 30 days of that decision, petition the commission for a hearing.” Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 12 § 685-B(3-A)(C).

8-ME-d.21 to 8-ME-d.25 – Response to Appeal

The MLUPC is not required to hold a hearing, but must respond within 45 days of receipt of the petition. Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 12 § 685-B(3-A)(C). In their response, the MLUPC will notify “the petitioner in writing [either] of the date, time and place set for the requested hearing, or denying the approval of the application as proposed.” Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 12 § 685-B(3-A)(C). The MLUPC must issue an order either granting or denying the Permit within 60 days after the MLUPC adjourns the hearing. Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 12 § 685-B(3-A)(D).


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