BUCKSPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A big operation is underway this week as construction crews worked by both land and by air today to erect power lines across the Penobscot River.
Central Maine Power Company (CMP) started the project about a year ago as part of the Maine Power Reliability Program, meant to ensure the long-term reliability of CMP's power system. It includes the construction of five new 345-kilovolt substations linked by approximately 440 miles of new transmission lines.
The Kansas City, Missouri based company Burns & McDonnell was contracted to do the job employing close to 2,700 workers. According to Construction Superintendent, John Lekse, almost every worker on this job has a specialty. "There's an element of risk with every line construction," says Lekse. "There's a lot of training that these people go through, both the line workers and the helicopter company and for the most part they specialize in this work."
Helicopters were used today to place lines that run across the Penobscot River from Winterport to Bucksport. They placed the lines atop the lattice towers that crews finished building in July. The three types of lines used are straw line, hard line and a conductor line.
Spokesperson for CMP, Gail Rice, says that the project cost $1.4 billion and was needed due to an aged system. "What these new facilities will do is reinforce the back bone of CMP's bulk power system," says Rice. "The system that we have now was built 40 years ago and white it served us well it was due for some upgrading."
The Maine Power Reliability Program is the largest construction project ever undertaken in Maine. The first new 345,000 volt substation will be energized later this year, with construction on the entire project expected to wrap up in 2015.