In a key project nod after 18 months of review, the Maine Public Utilities Commission gave critical approval April 11 to a 145-mile high-voltage transmission line to transport 1,200 MW of hydropower from Quebec to Maine, where it will connect with the New England power grid.

The $1-billion project still needs federal and other state approvals and permits before construction can start later this year.

In 2018, Massachusetts utilities selected the New England Clean Energy Connect to provide 1,200 MW of clean energy under a 20-year contract.

Spain-based Iberdrola and its unit Avangrid, the project developers, expect to finish the line by 2022.

The project was amended last fall to accommodate objections in crossing the Kennebec River. Plans now call for horizontal directional drilling under the river. The Natural Resources Council of Maine and other environmental groups oppose the project.