Bangor Hydro aims to boost power to MDI

Posted Oct. 13, 2010, at 8:10 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:07 p.m.

TRENTON, Maine — To help increase the electrical supply to customers on Mount Desert Island, Bangor Hydro is installing an underground conduit to run additional lines to the island across the Trenton Causeway.

Work on the duct bank began Oct. 11, according to a recent press release from the power company. Underground electrical conductors will be installed in the duct banks next spring.

The project is aimed at improving both electrical capacity and reliability to MDI, the company said. Power is provided to MDI along cables that are strung up above the causeway on traditional utility poles.

“We evaluated many options to create a second electrical connection onto MDI, and have determined this design to be the best one in terms of cost, environmental impact and ability to meet future customer needs,” Lisa Martin, Bangor Hydro’s manager of transmission development, said in the release.

Martin urged motorists to use caution near the work site area.

Work on the project this fall involves tree trimming and groundwork along the east side of the highway, according to the release. The company said it does not expect any major traffic delays but that for brief periods traffic flow may be reduced to one lane of alternating flow.

The project is taking place as the demand for power continues to increase on MDI. Jackson Lab, which employs nearly 1,200 people in Bar Harbor, recently completed construction of a new 22,500-square-foot importation-isolation facility for its mice and received municipal approval to build a new 5,200-square-foot biomass boiler building. Ocean Properties Ltd., which owns five Bar Harbor hotel properties and more than 100 in North America, hopes to begin construction of a new $12 million, 110-room hotel in downtown Bar Harbor this fall.

For decades, the Trenton causeway has been the only fixed way for vehicles or electricity to reach MDI. At times, during storms or traffic accidents, such access has been blocked, both for motorists and for electrical power.

In October 2006, power to the island was cut when a strong storm pushed over the power poles that convey power cables across the causeway. Power outages earlier that year and in 2005 also pushed many downtown Bar Harbor business owners to call for improved reliability from the power distribution company.

The company since has taken other steps to improve capacity and reliability in the MDI area. In early 2009, the company completed work on the installation of a new 14-mile, 115,000-volt transmission line from Ellsworth to Trenton and a new substation in Trenton.

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