Inside a clean energy titan’s fight to kill a climate project

By Benjamin Storrow | 02/21/2024 06:26 AM EST

No one in the U.S. builds more solar and wind farms than NextEra Energy. It’s waging ferocious battles to keep the crown.

Machinery is used to clear trees in a Maine transmission line corridor.

Heavy machinery is used to cut trees to widen an existing power line corridor near Bingham, Maine. The state's plan to bring Canadian hydropower to New England has ignited political and legal battles between energy companies. Robert F. Bukaty/AP

The United States’ top developer of green energy has spent nearly six years undermining a clean power project vital to meeting New England’s climate goals.

Florida-based NextEra Energy has fought to block a transmission line for Canadian-generated hydropower by opposing it at two state supreme courts, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the ballot box — twice. Its tactics, overseen in part by a public relations firm with a history of defending coal, recently led a Maine ethics agency to issue its largest-ever fineagainst an organization working on NextEra’s behalf.
fought to block a transmission line
its largest-ever fine

NextEra’s campaign has delayed the power line’s construction for almost two years, leaving the region overwhelmingly dependent on natural gas — a stance critics say belies the company’s branding as a leader in the fight against climate change. Its opposition highlights an uncomfortable reality for climate advocates: Powerful allies can turn into cutthroat adversaries when their profits are threatened.


“It just shows you that these companies are not fundamentally allied with the climate movement, not fundamentally on the side of climate progress,” said Leah Stokes, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who has studied utility opposition to climate policy. “They are just monopolies who sit on the bridge like a troll and try to protect their own profits.”