LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Central Maine Power Company's $1.4 billion Maine Power Reliability Program reached a major milestone when electricity started flowing through a $57 million dollar substation on the outskirts of Lewiston.
"We have 2,700 people working on our system today. This is one of the largest construction projects ever in the state of Maine, and one of the largest transmission projects ever built in New England," stated Sara Burns, president and CEO of CMP.
This is the second year crews have spent making improvements to the company's bulk transmission system which carries electricity from power plants to substations which then transform the high voltage power into a form that can be used by homes and businesses.
"You can think of the bulk transmission system as route I-95," explained Burns. "It is where the major energy is moved out of power plants on to the distribution system."
She says the project will allow power to flow more efficiently, provides room for growth in the system and will help keep the lights on.
CMP says they studied their transmission system in the aftermath of a massive blackout on the East Coast in 2003, and determined that the system, the majority of which was built in the 1970's, needed to undergo a massive overhaul.
"We started back in 2006 performing those studies and really taking a hard look at the system to see where it was vulnerable to outages, and when I say outages I mean outages of a grand scale where the entire state goes out of service," explained Bill Sawyer, CMP's Power Reliability Program manager.
Sawyer says they designed the new system to be redundant, putting into place duplicates of almost every piece of equipment incase there is a problem or maintenance needs to be performed. He says they can make a couple of adjustments which will allow the power to flow on the back-up without interrupting service.
CMP says they will continue to work on the transmission system for another three years before the project is complete.
"It is a project of a lifetime," said Sawyer.