FORT KENT, Maine – Emera Maine is looking to increase the availability of reliable power in northern Maine with the proposed construction of a new substation in Monticello and 4.2 miles of transmission lines connecting it to New Brunswick Power’s Woodstock substation.
The total project cost, including upgrades to equipment on both sides of the border, is estimated at between $33 million and $35 million, according to a request for construction approval filed earlier this month with the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
The Emera plan is one of four currently under PUC consideration after the state agency launched an investigation in December 2012 into the reliability of electric service in northern Maine, according to Harry Lamphrey, PUC spokesman.
All energy coming in or out of Aroostook County does so through its connection to the New Brunswick power grid. The Aroostook grid is connected to the rest of Maine and New England only indirectly through a 345-kilovolt transmission line that runs from New Brunswick into Maine through Orient and Haynesville in southern Aroostook.
“There are some vulnerability issues up in Aroostook,” Susan Faloon, Emera Maine spokesperson, said Wednesday afternoon. “A lot of that is due to lack of in-region [power] generation capabilities [and] we are looking to bolster the availability of power.”
According to the PUC filing, the proposed Emera transmission line route is 130 feet wide and would connect a new 138-kilovolt line between the proposed Monticello substation and an existing one in Woodstock, New Brunswick. That new transmission line would be connected at Monticello to existing 69-kilovolt lines that currently run between Presque Isle and Houlton.
The projected cost of the work on the U.S. side of the border is $15 million to $17 million.
The three alternative proposals summarized in a PUC notice of proceeding dated Oct. 15 are:
— A 26-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission line proposed by New Hampshire Transmission, LLC, a subsidiary of Florida based NextEra Energy, would connect an existing substation in Houlton to an interconnection point in Haynesville. The estimated cost of the New Hampshire Transmission project is $59.4 million.
— Central Maine Power has proposed working with EDP Renewables North America LLC, the U.S. arm of Portugal-based EDP Renewables, to also build a 26-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission line between the Houlton substation and Haynesville. That proposal, which would cost an estimated $147 million, also references using a generator lead line from an unnamed wind power project.
— A proposal by Boston-based Maine GenLead LLC and Northern Maine Interconnection LLC would use a 59-mile generator lead line from a wind project currently under construction in Oakfield to tie into a proposed 14- to 16-mile extension to the substation in Houlton at a fixed $3.1 million annual cost over 30 years.
All four proposals are currently under consideration by the PUC, according to Lamphrey.
“We are not sure if there will be any public hearings on these proposals,” he said. “But all parties that want to comment can certainly do so and the commissioner does look at and consider all those comments”
Any person who wishes to participate in the proceedings as a party may file a petition to intervene on or before Oct. 27. The deadline for objections to Petitions to Intervene is Nov. 3.
Information on filing a petition with the PUC is available on its website at http://www.maine.gov/mpuc/index.shtml.
An initial conference in the case will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 6 in the Worster Room of the PUC office at 101 Second Street in Hallowell.
Lamphrey anticipates a final decision on the proposals at some point next year.
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