Substation concepts show enclosed design

BAR HARBOR — Emera Maine is considering a new location at the corner of Prospect Avenue and Eden Street for their proposed new downtown substation.

Concept plans for the site, at the location of the now-closed Jordan-Fernald funeral home, envision a substation concealed in a well-manicured house, with equipment in the backyard hidden by an 8-foot-tall wooden fence. Emera also is proposing a similarly-concealed substation at their original proposed site on Woodbury Road.

The concept plans were distributed to the citizens advisory commission working with Emera officials on the substation issue at their bi-weekly meeting on March 19. According to people who were at the meeting, Emera officials asked the group to keep the plans quiet while they reached out to neighbors.

News of the plans, however, percolated on social media for the past few weeks. Emera officials first announced the Prospect Avenue site at the advisory commission meeting March 5, according to those close to the process.

Emera spokesperson Susan Faloon said via email that she could not comment on the Prospect Avenue site. She also asked the Islander to keep the information from the public until the company could contact abutters. They reportedly sent notice of their proposal to Prospect Avenue neighborhood residents on Friday.

“The advisory group, as well as our team, has committed to working through the process before sharing that information,” Faloon said. “You can imagine how people in a neighborhood would feel if they found out about a proposed site through the newspaper before they were contacted.”

Emera is also considering a third site for the proposed substation, a brick building on Edgewood Street that houses the town’s current, outdated substation.

The concept plans for all three sites were included in a weekly packet of information distributed to town councilors by Town Manager Cornell Knight on Friday. As such, they are part of the public record.

Emera is in the process of completing their MDI Reliability Project, which began several years ago with the installation of redundant power lines coming onto the island beneath the Trenton Bridge. The project has included a new substation in Somesville and now includes plans to bring new power transmission lines from Town Hill to downtown. The lines were originally proposed for Crooked Road, but after protests and a subsequent citizens advisory process, the company has agreed to run the lines along Route 3.

The final piece of the reliability project is the construction of a new substation near downtown to receive and distribute the power from the new transmission lines. Emera first planned to build the substation on a three-acre property on Woodbury Road, but the plans generated significant controversy after the property was cleared of vegetation last winter.

The initial plans for the Woodbury Road substation called for a 25,000-square-foot, open air facility. The latest simulation shows a 68-foot-by-20-foot house. A large area behind the house is shown closed in with a 12-foot-tall wooden fence.

At the Prospect Avenue site, the simulation shows an 80-foot-by-20-foot house at the current location of the funeral home. A closed-in area behind it is shown surrounded by an 8-foot-tall wooden fence running up along the road.

It is unclear whether the power lines on the properties would be buried or are just not shown in the drawings.

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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