To the Editor:
Emera Maine and the citizens’ Substation Advisory Committee with which it has been working are pleased to announce that the company will soon be filing an application with the town to build a substation on Prospect Avenue in downtown Bar Harbor.
The substation will be built to meet the electricity needs of downtown Bar Harbor reliably and well into the future. Both the location and the neighborhood-compatible design are the result of a careful and productive collaboration between Emera Maine and multiple stakeholders representing the varied interests within Bar Harbor: Town government, the business community, Acadia National Park, neighbors of each of the potential substation locations, conservation groups and interested citizens.
Beginning in July of 2014 and continuing through the final citizens’ Substation Advisory Committee meeting on May 14, every stakeholder has participated in detailed, at times spirited, discussions about how best to meet the electricity needs for a unique town nestled between Acadia National Park and Frenchman’s Bay. Everyone who participated in this process understood, in Lincoln’s words, that “as we face problems anew, we must think anew.”
After reviewing substation designs utilized elsewhere in the world and working with its engineers on possible redesigns, Emera Maine has elected to build a substation very different from the design originally planned for Woodbury Road. The new design will be far more compact, without any loss of reliability, and enclosed in an architecturally designed and landscaped structure with equipment mostly hidden from public view. The final design style will be selected to best fit into the surrounding neighborhood.
With the technical design decision made, Emera Maine and the advisory committee then carefully weighed the pros and cons of three different locations: the current substation on Edgewood Street, the original location on Woodbury Road, and a third location on Prospect Avenue at the site of the former funeral home.
Neighbors of all three sites were involved, and Emera Maine and the advisory committee established a careful decision-making matrix by which the committee could evaluate reliability, operational, construction and neighborhood impact factors, as well as the costs to rate payers of the three proposed locations. Each site had its advantages and disadvantages.
Some of the reasons Prospect Avenue rose to the top are that it is the best location to efficiently connect to the power demand in downtown Bar Harbor, that it has a lesser impact on the surrounding neighborhood than would the site on Woodbury Road, and that it would be less costly to rate payers than replacing the aging Edgewood Street substation.
Emera Maine is working closely with Prospect Avenue-area neighbors to create a final design that not only minimizes the impact on that neighborhood but actually enhances the aesthetic appeal.
Emera Maine and the Bar Harbor Substation Advisory Committee encourage citizens to attend a public meeting on Monday, June 1, 6-8 p.m., at the town hall to learn more about the new Prospect Avenue substation plans.
On behalf of the Bar Harbor Substation Advisory Committee and Emera Maine