Crooked Road pole upgrade is planned

Emera Maine plans to replace power poles on Crooked Road within five years. FILE PHOTO

Emera Maine plans to replace power poles on Crooked Road within five years. FILE PHOTO

BAR HARBOR — Power poles on Crooked Road will be replaced within five years whether or not contested new transmission lines are run along the route, Emera Maine officials state in their latest filing with the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Emera officials further respond in the filing to allegations that they have misrepresented facts and left a number of questions unanswered while dealing with community groups in Bar Harbor. Officials with the power company agreed with critics in calling for the PUC to begin a formal inquiry into their proposed plans.

Chief among Emera’s opponents’ complaints are that the company has let the community advisory process exploring alternative subdivision locations break down. Company officials state in their filing that while there have been some pauses in the process, they remain committed. There was to be an Oct. 2 meeting, they said, but this was cancelled by members of the committee. Complainants then began their latest round of filings with the PUC, and the groups have not met again.

Emera states that they are committed to addressing power delivery reliability issues on Mount Desert Island, and that they are working collaboratively with stakeholders to address the situation. As their opponents requested previously, Emera asks that PUC officials schedule an initial case conference to begin formal discussions.

PUC officials have not responded to either request.

One of the misrepresentations alleged by opponents is that Emera “repeatedly” said that the only plan for the current distribution poles on the Crooked Road was to trim vegetation and trees around them, but now say that they are going to replace them.

One of the oppositions’ reasons against running new transmission lines down Crooked Road is that it would be too disruptive to the environment. But Emera makes clear in the filing that the plan has been to replace poles along the route all along, and that is part of the reason that they have considered it a location for upgraded transmission lines.

“The existing poles on the Crooked Road vary in age, but generally are approximately 45 years old or older, the conductor [wire] is over 50 years old, and therefore the line is approaching end-of-life,” the filing reads. “If Emera Maine did not say anything about a future rebuild of the Crooked Road distribution line earlier in the process, that information was not intentionally withheld, rather it was assumed that it would be understood that rebuild is inevitable for all lines.”

Other complaints in PUC filings involve the actual routing of current transmission lines downtown, the potential routing of power lines on Route 3 and Emera calling the proposed substation both a “switching” and “distribution” station. Each of these is answered with a brief, factual explanation.

Emera Maine received approval last winter from the town to build a power substation on a three-acre lot on Woodbury Road, just outside of downtown. Some neighbors to the site became alarmed after the lot was cleared entirely of vegetation and trees. An appeal made to the town was unsuccessful as it was deemed untimely. That appeal has been forwarded to Superior Court.

Opponents to the project and to the company’s related plans to run new transmission lines down Crooked Road then filed a 10-person complaint with the PUC. Action on that complaint was put on hold by the PUC while the power company and opposition groups met to explore options. Both sides are now asking the PUC to begin their formal process.

Robert Levin

Robert Levin

Former reporter Robert Levin covered the people, businesses, governmental and nonprofit agencies of Bar Harbor. [email protected]
Robert Levin

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