BAR HARBOR — Nearly all of the downtown area’s hotels, restaurants and shops lost power for the second time in just over a week during a peak demand period Sunday evening. The two-hour outage that began around 5:45 p.m. was caused by a tree that fell onto a transmission line on Cromwell Harbor Road.
The incident took out power to all of downtown because the area is fed with a single-line transmission system, Emera Maine spokesperson Susan Faloon said Monday. It is the very sort of event that the company is working toward preventing with their MDI reliability project, the third phase of which would see a second set of transmission lines run into downtown, a new power substation constructed and a substantial amount of outdated equipment replaced, she said.
“This was a transmission line, which is a high-voltage line that feeds distribution lines. That’s why it affected so many customers,” Faloon said. “If our substation and transmission line project were complete, only one large industrial customer would have experienced a power outage.”
Emera Maine (formerly Bangor Hydro Electric Co.) has been working to increase power reliability in Bar Harbor since overloaded circuits caused a power outage downtown on July 4, 2006. In October of that same year, snapped power poles on the Trenton Bridge caused an island-wide blackout.
The first phase of the project saw new, underground power cables installed at the bridge, while the second phase included a new substation in Somesville.
Construction of the third phase was to begin this fall, but company officials halted the project after protests from neighbors of the proposed substation on Woodbury Road and from residents of Town Hill who are against the new transmission lines passing in front of their houses. Emera is now convening citizen advisory committees to help move the line and substation projects forward in a more agreeable way.
The incident was the second major power outage in just over a week; on Saturday, July 5, one of the busiest tourist days of the year, Tropical Storm Arthur knocked out power to many parts of downtown and the Eden Street hotel corridor for 14 hours. Business owners estimate losses are more than $1 million from that incident alone.