HAMPDEN, Maine — What has been at least in the blueprint stage for the better part of three decades is finally set to become reality as Bangor Hydro Electric Co. begins phase two of its consolidation and relocation plan.
The Hampden Town Council approved a 20-year credit enhancement and tax increment financing agreement between the town and Bangor Hydro for the power company to consolidate its Bangor operations into a new facility in Hampden.
“This is a big deal, and it’s a huge economic benefit to the town,” said Dean Bennett, Hampden’s economic development director. “It’s twofold: One way with taxes, which will generate $6-8 million in gross new taxes over the terms of the agreement, and in addition to that revenue, we’ll get added revenue from the excise taxes for all the vehicles used by their employees that will be based in Hampden.”
Bennett estimates that amount to be another $2 million-plus over a 30-year period.
Eric Clapp, Bangor Hydro’s superintendent of facilities, said it’s impossible not to be excited about something that’s been so long in the making.
“It’s something that’s overdue for our employees and work processes in terms of efficiency, so there’s a lot of excitement for sure,” said Clapp, a 34-year employee who has been involved in this project since 1987. “A couple of years ago, a lot of these people probably would have bet a paycheck it wouldn’t happen.”
Bangor Hydro has a workforce of 300 full- and part-time employees and a fleet of about 300 vehicles. About two-thirds of the operation will be moved to the Hampden location at 28 Penobscot Meadow Drive.
“I guess you could say this is the second phase of a three-phase plan,” said Clapp. “We’ll have about 150 vehicles and 225 employees at the new facility when we move in roughly two years from now.”
The current facility sits just off Route 202 and alongside the U.S. Postal Service’s Eastern Maine Processing and Distribution Center.
“It’s a perfect location, right across from the business park and well-suited for transportation purposes with [Route] 202 right there and easy access to I-395 and 95,” said Bennett. “Plus it will eventually have all of its operations in one location.”
Bangor Hydro maintains operations at six locations in four municipalities including Bangor, Hampden, Veazie and Lincoln. The longtime headquarters on lower Main Street — which Bangor Hydro has maintained since 1927 — will be vacated after the new facility is finished.
Bangor Hydro owns approximately 50 acres — half in Bangor and half in Hampden — where the new headquarters will be located. Currently the property features a 13,000-square-foot warehouse built 10 years ago. The project calls for the construction of a 73,000-square-foot building for the new facility. That will be augmented in 2019 with a 42,000-square-foot expansion project that will allow Bangor Hydro to house the office operations, such as customer service, engineering and IT, now located at facilities on Illinois Avenue and Telcom Drive in Bangor. The lease for the Telcom location expires in 2019.
Construction is expected to start no later than June.
Two Hampden councilors were at Monday’s meeting but abstained from voting on the Bangor Hydro agreement because they are employed by the company (Jeremy Williams) or have relatives who are (Kristen Hornbrook). The vote was 4-0 in favor of approving the agreement.
“I can’t say how pleased we are about this agreement and how much we appreciate the efforts of the people who helped make it possible,” said Mayor and Councilor Janet Hughes.