The Bass Harbor Head Light shines above the former lightkeeper’s house on a recent foggy morning. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Power in play in lighthouse deal

ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Aside from the usual government red tape, the reason it might take a while for the U.S. Coast Guard to transfer ownership of the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse to the National Park Service is the process of dividing responsibility for electricity.

Once the conveyance occurs, the Coast Guard will continue to operate the light in the lighthouse as an aid to navigation.

“The only sticking point right now is some electrical conduit issues that we’re trying to resolve,” said Chief Warrant Officer Robert Nichols, the Coast Guard’s aid to navigation officer for Northern New England.

“Some electrical equipment needs to be replaced, and we’ve got to figure out a system for dividing the power so that Acadia is not paying for the light to be energized and we’re not paying for the [rest of] the facility to receive power.”

Nichols said that some lighthouses, especially those on remote islands, have been converted to solar power, but that is not currently the plan for the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.

“It’s not out of the question; it’s an option that’s being looked at,” he said. “But that in itself is a fairly big project, and we have reliable shore power here.”

Nichols noted that the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is important historically and as a visitor attraction.

“It would be nice to avoid putting up a rack full of giant solar panels,” he said.

Nichols said he didn’t know when the electricity issue might be resolved and ownership of the lighthouse transferred to Acadia.

“It depends on what the plan forward is going to be and, of course, the money and the availability of people to do the [electrical] work,” he said. “The plan is still to go forward with the transfer. There are just a few logistics that are still being worked out.”

Acadia officials have said it could be sometime next year before the transfer occurs.



Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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