The Maine Public Utilities Commission, in a June 25 notice of proceeding, said that an initial case and technical conference is scheduled for July 16 regarding Central Maine Power’s (CMP) request for approval to rebuild a portion of “Section 1,” which is a 22-mile, 34.5-kV transmission line that runs between substations in Augusta and Winslow in Maine.
The line provides power to about 7,700 CMP customers in the Augusta and Vassalboro areas, the commission said, noting that a portion of the line runs alongside Church Hill Road in Augusta, and the remainder is cross country in a right of way (ROW).
AVANGRID’s CMP proposes to rebuild a 12-mile stretch of Section 1 with an estimated cost of $12.1m at the same location as the existing line, the commission said, noting that CMP indicates that it has negotiated with landowners to secure a wider ROW to facilitate more effective vegetation management.
The commission said that assessments done in 2013 and 2018 revealed that the line was rated in poor and declining condition, with CMP stating that the poor condition is because of undersized conductor, rejected poles and crossarms, as well as poor acmes for vegetation management due to restricted real estate rights. The commission noted that many of the line’s components have an average age of 86 years and many portions of the line do not meet sag clearance requirements prescribed by AVANGRID standards. The commission said that the line is rated seventh worst out of 291 transmission lines in CMP’s system.
The commission noted that CMP seeks expedited review of its petition, citing the staffing requirements of two contractors associated with the project. CMP asserts that while it originally anticipated construction to begin in spring 2020, between awarding the contracts and the commencement of work, the Maine Legislature passed An Act to Reduce Electricity Costs through Nonwires Alternatives, which imposed a commission review requirement on the line that had not previously been in statute, and it required that the project be reviewed by the new Non-Wires Alternative Coordinator housed in the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA).
The commission added that those requirements delayed the project and the contractors have had to lay off workers. CMP asserts that an expedited review would “assist these two contractors and their employees during the challenging times we are currently facing due to COVID-19.”
The commission also noted that according to CMP, the OPA’s Non-Wires Alternative Coordinator has reviewed the project and determined that “the project should move forward as proposed without non wires alternatives.”
The commission said that interested persons wishing to intervene in the matter should file petitions to intervene by July 10. Among other things, the commission noted that the July 16 conference will be held by telephone due to restrictions required by the COVID-19 pandemic.