Project includes substation, lines

BAR HARBOR — Emera Maine is set to begin work this fall on both parts of a project to improve reliability of electrical service here: a new substation on Prospect Avenue and new transmission lines connecting that new facility with the existing substation in Town Hill.

“Bar Harbor is an area of our system that’s been growing,” project manager Kendra Overlock said. “It’s really important to improve reliability for our customers.”

Downtown “we have an aging substation on Edgewood Street and padmount transformers, those green boxes you see around town,” she said. “We need a modern, centralized system to serve our needs now and into the future. The new substation will take the place of the padmount transformers plus the old substation.”

Emera has not yet contacted tenants in apartments in the current building, the former funeral home on Prospect Avenue, she said, because they have not yet finalized the real estate transaction. They expect to close on the property in August. They hold a purchase and sale agreement as well as a building permit from the town.

“The new substation is designed to fit within the context of the neighborhood, Overlock said. “It will be different than anything Emera has done in our service territory. It’s not the industrial-looking substation you may see in other towns. The two transformers are low-profile and will be enclosed in green boxes. You won’t see steel structures rising up out of the top. The equipment will be shielded from view and sound by structure, fencing and vegetation.”

Emera also has been working directly with neighbors at the Prospect Avenue site, she said. Earlier plans for a substation on Woodbury Road ran into issues when nearby landowners sought to appeal the town’s decision to issue a building permit there.

The controversy led to the formation of an advisory committee that worked with the company to identify another site. “The committee showed so much commitment and dedication to the process,” Overlock said. “I believe we ended up with a better result because we took time to work through that process. We’re not having regular meetings now, but we’re keeping them up to date by email as things develop.”

No decisions have been made about what will be done with the Edgewood Street facility once it’s taken off line.

The new transmission lines will run on Route 3 and the Knox Road, Overlock said. “Right now, the Burn’s Corner substation (at the intersection of Knox and Gilbert Farm Roads) works on a radial feed, so if there’s an outage, everybody loses power. With this redundant loop, we can isolate power [loss] just to an affected area.”

The new poles will be five to eight feet taller than the existing ones, with two sets of wires each, she said. They’re not high-tension lines or big towers. “As transmission lines go, they’re very low voltage” – their job connecting the substations qualified them for the title, she said. They typically won’t be serving customers directly.

Route 3 has been designated a National Scenic Byway by the Federal Highway Commission, and a committee of representatives from the town, state, Chamber of Commerce and Acadia National Park work on issues relating to that status. “Members of the committee have gone out with us to discuss visual impact” of the transmission lines, she said.

Work will begin on the Knox Road section in late fall this year. “We’ll do construction over the winter to manage around peak traffic season.” They’ll work as far as Pirate’s Cove on Ireson Hill, then coordinate the southern half of the project with the Department of Transportation’s schedule for the rebuild of Route 3 beginning next fall. (See related story).

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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