A tip of the hat this week to officials from Emera Maine and members of the citizens advisory committee who have been working to determine a location and design for a new electrical substation in Bar Harbor.
That effort has channeled what began as outright and total opposition into positive energy aimed at finding a better, compromise solution.
After several years of ill-timed outages and brownouts, Bar Harbor’s electrical grid is in dire need of an upgrade. The utility is bound by certain physical requirements concerning placement and position of a new substation. Minimizing the impact on neighbors, however, also has been identified as a priority.
Now, instead of considering a single site close to numerous homes, the committee is exploring multiple possibilities, including one that would involve upgrading an existing switching facility on Edgewood Street and reusing an existing structure that dates back to the town’s first “electric light” plant.
Architect’s drawings of structures that might be located elsewhere show what appear to be shingle-style homes rather than open and desolate industrial wastelands.
While there still will be those who oppose any new substation based on a misinformed understanding of the risks posed by such facilities, Emera has shown great patience and a willingness to address the aesthetic concerns of neighbors.
Throughout this process, both the utility and the citizenry have learned a lot about the needs and goals of the other. While not everyone will celebrate the ultimate solution, it will represent a true intersection of the best intentions and interests of all involved.