CMP, governor celebrate power-line upgrade

LEWISTON — Gov. Paul LePage seemed pleased Friday about what the $1.4 billion upgrade to Maine's electrical grid would mean to the local economy.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Central Maine Power President Sara Burns, left, Gov. Paul LePage, center, and Iberdrola Chairman Ignacio Galan listen to Maine Power Reliability Program project manager Bill Sawyer during a celebration and tour of the Larrabee Road substation in Lewiston on Friday. The celebration marked the halfway point of the $1.4 billion construction project.

LePage was on hand as Central Maine Power and its parent company, Iberdrola USA, marked the halfway point in its Maine Power Reliability Program.

"What's important is that we've had a very overworked system," CMP President Sara Burns told the governor during a tour of the company's new Lewiston substation. "By investing in this, we now have a platform so that if someone wants to move into Lewiston and build a factory, we can support that."

"That's what I'm talking about," LePage said, hugging Burns. "Now we're talking."

The five-year, 452-mile upgrade is designed to modernize Maine's power grid and give the state more reliable electric service. It involves upgrading a swath of power lines through central Maine to connect to lines from Canada. The lines pass through Litchfield, Monmouth, Leeds, Greene, Lewiston and a corner of Auburn at the Durham line.

The new Lewiston substation on Larrabee Road is a big part of that work. It's designed to take 345,000-volt electricity, run it through a 750,000-pound autotransformer to reduce it to the 115,000-volt level suitable for delivery to the Central Maine region. The company officially turned on that substation in December.

Work in Lewiston should be finished this summer, as crews connect the 345,000-volt network to the 115,000-volt network.

"From the outset, we were committed to building a smarter, stronger grid — a grid equal to the most modern systems of any system in the world," Burns said. "We stand here today, two and a half years into the construction, and we can measure the impact of the project."

Friday's milestone celebration was a catered affair, with music and promotional videos playing on big screens under a white tent on the edge of the property. Iberdrola Chairman Ignacio Galan flew in from Spain for the gala.

For Burns, the entire project is cause for celebration. The work is a huge boost to Maine's future, giving the state an electricity infrastructure as good as any in the world.

"This is our backbone," Burns said. "It's our platform for the next 20, 30 or 40 years."

LePage agreed that it's important.

"Mainers right now suffer from high energy costs; we have for years," LePage said. "This is going to help develop the diversity in different fuels and energies so we can lower the overall cost of doing business."

LePage said he would push state agencies to lower the cost of energy for business.

"I'm not like a lot of people who say we should not use more energy," LePage said. "I think we need to use more. If we are using more, that means businesses are producing and if we are producing, people are making money. And I can go golfing."

Burns said the work itself has been a boon to Maine, providing economic investment and jobs when they were sorely needed.

"For the past 30 months, this project has employed 2,700 people at nearly 300 Maine businesses," she said. "We also know that it's added another 700 to 800 jobs throughout the economy. And by virtue of our spending, many of you can see the impact we've had. We've heard it from sandwich shops, from restaurants, from hotels, from mechanics and repair shops and even from farmers; we use a lot of hay."

The project is scheduled to be completed in 2015, with autotransformers installed in Windsor and Kennebunk.

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 's picture

Now that CMP is about to have

Now that CMP is about to have a world class transmission network that will support the 24/7 energy demands of successful, producing business enterprises, we hope for a strong and consistent generation source to successfully satisfy these energy demands. Move the State ahead with Hydro and Nuclear ( Two non-emitting generators, as well as the two least expensive methods of electrical production). Rid the State of wind power structures ( a sputtering and expensive producer of electricity)

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Nuclear is non-emiting?

Seems to me the polution from a nuclear disaster (Chernobyl, Fukushima) is far more deadly.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Wind is only good for a backup alternative, IF ever needed

Comparison to Other Technology Costs

According to the EIA, the levelized cost of an advanced natural gas-fired combined cycle plant is 6.3 cents per kilowatt hour and that of an advanced coal-fired plant and nuclear plant are each 11.1 cents per kilowatt hour. Thus, the full cost of wind power is 140 percent higher than an advanced natural gas-fired plant and over 70 percent higher than an advanced coal or nuclear plant. Thus, assertions made by the wind industry that wind power is becoming cost competitive with fossil fuel-generated power are not the case from these cost estimates.

According to Forbes, a power company in South Carolina is investing about $11 billion to construct two 1,100 megawatt nuclear reactors on roughly 1,000 acres. To get the same amount of electricity out of wind power that operates at a 30 to 40 percent capacity factor due to its intermittency, would require more than 1,700 turbines stretched across 200,000 acres, for an upfront investment of $8.8 billion, but providing less reliable power.[v]

According to the study authors at the American Tradition Institute,

“At the current price of natural gas and before counting any costs of transmission, wind’s cost is 6-7 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) more than its benefit—the cost of the fossil fuel it can save and the conventional generation facilities it can replace. For wind’s existing 3.5% share of all U.S. generation, that 6-7 cents/kWh translates into $8.5 to $10 billion extra that ratepayers have paid this year, and will continue paying every year for as long as existing wind facilities (or their replacements) remain in operation.”


According to the American Tradition Institute, there are numerous hidden costs to wind power, including the cost of back-up power, the cost of extra transmission, and the cost of favorable tax benefits. And, the assumption of a 30-year life used in government calculations for wind power is optimistic given reports from European countries that have invested early in wind power.[vi] Including these hidden costs in calculating the cost of wind power increases its cost by a factor of 1.5 or 2, depending on the power system that is used as back-up. The Institute calculates that ratepayers are paying an extra $8.5 to $10 billion a year for wind power compared to natural gas-fired generation, and this will only grow as more capacity is added. Add to this the more than $12 billion that the American taxpayer is paying for the ‘one-year’ extension for the PTC, and one can see that the wind industry is getting a real boondoggle at the expense of taxpayers and ratepayers.


Fuel Costs
This is the total annual cost associated with the "burnup" of nuclear fuel resulting from the operation of the unit. This cost is based upon the amortized costs associated with the purchasing of uranium, conversion, enrichment, and fabrication services along with storage and shipment costs, and inventory (including interest) charges less any expected salvage value.

For a typical 1,000 MWe BWR or PWR, the approximate cost of fuel for one reload (replacing one third of the core) is about $40 million, based on an 18-month refueling cycle. The average fuel cost at a nuclear power plant in 2011 was 0.68 cents / kWh.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Wants to golf and us his putter

"That's what I'm talking about," LePage said, hugging Burns. "Now we're talking."

Paul, get a room...matter of fact they still might have your old room at the Jolly at the Holly, strip joint....

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I happened into that place once......

While killing time waiting for my girlfriend to get off work at a local restaurant, I checked out the Holly, I've been warned about it, but had to see for myself. Having been schooled in the art of exotic dancing in the "Combat Zone" in Boston, my expectations were high.
I have seen "camp ground" out houses with more appeal than that place had. I do remember saying to myself, If you weren't a drinker before you came in, the shows would make you start. I have never witnessed an establishment that used their on stage talent to increase the alcohol sales. Just my historical perspective.........................

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


I don't even know if that it still open. It surely was the pits of pits for a drinking hole or entertainment putting it mildly. Yepper, LePage was a tenant of the hotel and patron for some time. There was an article about, he himself sharing his escapade with some news association. It was out at the time he was running or poorly elected 2 years back, but being that he was known by some of us in town, his behaviorally reputation preceded him with his known badass behavior and activities.
Plus my mom being longtime friends with his adoptive mom, and I worked with her real son at Cottles, the guy really carried some heavy baggage. His other 11 or so siblings were off in other directions, foster care and such.

Ah yes, smiling memories of the Combat Zone, the guys and I would roadtrip many times out to Bean town and enjoy the sights and pleasures and the Red Sox games.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

The "Holly" is no more.....

With a little help from Northern Utilities, (gas company) The long closed Holly" along with Lewiston Radiator Shop, Blew Sky high about twelve or thirteen years ago. The Holly, then being used as storage for the radiator shop, took out a few cars as it headed across the street and tried to get to the river, almost made it to. I was putting my socks on about a mile and a half away, and felt the house shake. Yup, she went out in a blaze of glory.........

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Didn't know that

I was in ME back 5 years ago and 8 years ago. I never got down that way because, when I do come, in those years it was to do work on my apartment buildings and never had time for anything else, except for family too.

Ray Lombard, who owned the hardware store next door and many other businesses. He was a longtime good friend that my brother in law Ray Gagnon had camps out at Allen Pond many years ago. I did some work for him at the store in 84' across from the carwash near the radiator shop, before I moved to Norwalk, CT.

I was almost run over there, running across to the carwash, at 8 yo, running between two park cars to go see the river off the bridge, man my old man was livid with me that day and thankful too the car jammed his brakes on and bumped me to the ground.

I never knew it had blown up...thanks for that....

 's picture


Iberdrola owns CMP. CMP gave you a rate hike for the project.

Oberdrola wants Industrial Scale Wind everywhere. Wake up Maine.

Bob White's picture

What's your point?

What's your point?

Andrew Jones's picture

and I could go golfing. LOL

and I could go golfing.


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