Reliability and beauty

To the Editor:

Whether I agree or disagree with their content, the editorial columns of the Islander are always thoughtful and well-written. But this time, your editorial “Historic Precedent” hit it right out of the park. Home run!

I agree with each pertinent point and piece of information the paper provided. We have a big problem for downtown commercial and industrial Bar Harbor. Tourism businesses, Jackson Lab, MDI Hospital and municipal government all need a new substation – now. The closer the substation is to the biggest users of electricity, the more reliable and efficient the delivery of electricity will be. The Islander hit a grand slam in pointing out how the substation on Edgewood Street, which has been in existence for more than 100 years, is the better location for a new substation, rather than in the backyards of a densely packed residential family neighborhood.

It explains how the Edgewood location is a win/win for all of Bar Harbor, both year-round residents and seasonal and year-round businesses.

Readers of the Islander might be interested in information some of our citizens have found through their own research. Swedish substation experts presented a paper at an international conference in 2011. A paper by Olovsson, Stalberg, Lundvall and Nilsson describes the advantages of advanced switch gear technology.

“Today we have the technique to locate substations inside a house of similar outlook as the surrounding buildings, thus making substations ‘invisible.’ The footprint is significantly reduced with the indoor solutions. For rehabilitation of old substations, part of the land is then unused and can be sold or used for other purposes. By going from outdoor to indoor, it will be much easier to get permits, third-party safety will be guaranteed, and the substation’s reliability will increase thanks to the protection from ‘external’ factors, e.g. weather conditions, vandalism, animals, pollution, etc., which will also give a higher availability.

“This is of utmost importance for the asset owner since power outages are not tolerated today with the society’s high dependence on continuous electrical supply, ‘no black-outs please.'”

This is exactly what the existing Edgewood Substation can be rebuilt to do. It can provide us with more dependable electricity delivery with 21st century technology in the heart of the demand for this power – downtown Bar Harbor. At the same time, we may be able to preserve a charming brick building or have a new building erected in a similar style.

This approach of placing sensitive and valuable equipment inside a building, insulated by inert gases, produces a much smaller footprint than having the equipment in an open-air yard surrounded by a chain link fence and barbed wire. Such of the later arrangement is more appropriate for a prison than the home of America’s premier national park. Visitors will continue to have an unspoiled vista from the historic Cadillac Road, Park Loop Road and Cadillac hiking trails.

A substation largely contained in a charming brick building announces to our visitors Bar Harbor’s commitment to beauty. It is infinitely preferable to a loud buzzing transformer and three-story towers in one of the oldest and most established family neighborhoods in Bar Harbor.

Reliability and beauty are there for Bar Harbor, but only if we all insist upon them.

Donna Mae Karlson

Bar Harbor

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