TRENTON, Maine —- Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. plans to resume work this week on a project it started last fall to increase capacity and improve reliability of power to Mount Desert Island.
Construction crews are expected to work on completion of a new underground duct bank on the Trenton causeway from April 13 until May 26, Bangor Hydro indicated in a press release issued late last week.
The company indicated that it does not expect any major traffic delays but that there may be “brief periods” of alternating one-lane traffic while work is under way.
Company officials said the project will create a second connection of Bangor Hydro service onto MDI without having any long-term visual impact on the scenic section of Route 3 that connects the island to the mainland.
“It strikes the best balance of cost, environmental impact, and ability to meet future customer needs,” Bangor Hydro Project Manager Jim Cameron said in the release.
The project is taking place as the demand for power continues to increase on MDI. The Jackson Laboratory, which employs more than 1,200 people in Bar Harbor, recently completed construction of a 22,500-square-foot importation-isolation facility for its mice and last fall broke ground on a 5,200-square-foot biomass boiler building. Ocean Properties Ltd., which owns five Bar Harbor hotel properties and more than 100 in North America, recently began construction of a $12 million, 102-room hotel in downtown Bar Harbor.
According to official 2010 U.S. Census figures, Bar Harbor’s population grew more than 8 percent in the past decade, from 4,820 residents to 5,235 residents. During that same time, the total population of MDI and nearby offshore island towns grew more than 2 percent, from 10,917 residents to 11,149, census figures indicate.
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 across the causeway has been cut off, 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 carry 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 installed a new 14-mile, 115,000-volt transmission line from Ellsworth to Trenton and brought online a new substation in Trenton near the causeway to MDI.