Kevin Ross, a rafting guide for Dead River Expeditions, in June pointed to a section of the Kennebec River Gorge where CMP proposed a major transmission line crossing. It would have arced over an otherwise undeveloped seven mile stretch of the river. Credit: Fred Bever | Maine Public

Central Maine Power said Thursday it has notified regulators that it plans to change one of the lightning rods of its proposed hydropower project through western Maine by laying power lines under the Kennebec River instead of having aerial lines visible by the scenic Kennebec River Gorge.

The company said the change to its New England Clean Energy Connect project addresses concerns of state environmental regulators, host communities and other stakeholders.

The company will submit a revised plan to cross under the river using horizontal directional drilling technology to install underground pipe without digging trenches. The move is an effort to preserve the scenic and recreational value of the Kennebec River Gorge.

“Maine and the region will benefit immensely from the New England Clean Energy Connect, so we are changing our proposal to address a key concern of state environmental regulators,” said Doug Herling, president and CEO of Central Maine Power. “This has always been under consideration. We believe this change may also encourage stronger support from those who appreciate the project’s benefits, but want to preserve the commercial and aesthetic value of the river as well.”

Herling did not say how much burying the lines would add to the cost of the $950 million project.

The proposed project still must clear multiple regulatory hurdles.

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Lori Valigra, senior reporter for economy and business, holds an M.S. in journalism from Boston University. She was a Knight journalism fellow at M.I.T. and has extensive international reporting experience...