BUCKSPORT, Maine — Central Maine Power’s next step in its five-year Maine Power Reliability Program will involve helicopters.
CMP will use helicopters to begin stringing lines above the Penobscot River between Winterport and Bucksport starting Monday morning if the weather cooperates, said CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice.
“It’s the first step in a three-step process to get the conductors to the top of the towers,” said Rice on Friday. “The lead line is a small steel cable that will be used to pull a medium-sized line that will eventually pull the conductors through.”
The towers and 345-kilovolt transmission lines will eventually carry power toward the end of the eastern edge of the project in Orrington.
The $1.4 billion investment project stretches from as far south and west as Eliot, as east as Orrington and as north as Cornville.
CMP, a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA, started preconstruction activities in Scarborough, Canton and Jay this month.
An expansion of Livermore Falls’ substation is scheduled to start later this month.
The project aims to double the number of 345-kilovolt lines in the state, said CMP spokesman John Carroll in April. At that time, the project was on schedule and on budget.
As part of the project, five new 345-kilovolt substations and related facilities are being built to stretch 440 miles of new transmission lines.
The construction project directly affects more than 70 cities and towns in the state. Carroll said CMP is generally using existing corridors, but some places needed to be widened. In some cases, the company has had to buy additional land.
In April, Carroll said CMP estimated that between 2,500 and 2,700 people work on the project on a daily basis.
“For every three jobs directly involved in the project, roughly one additional job would be indirectly created,” said Carroll, mentioning those jobs range from those who supply materials to waitresses near construction sites. “Between 700 to 900 people have jobs because of the project. It’s very satisfying for us.”
Construction on the project is slated to be completed by mid-2015.