ELLSWORTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- Bangor Hydro has completed a major expansion project that officials say will insure more reliable power for Downeast Maine.
During the 'Ice Storm of 1998,' the worst Maine has seen in decades, nine miles of utility poles came down. That caused the only power transmission line going to Downeast Maine to be cut off. As a result, thousands of customers in Washington County were left without power.
The company has now built a second transmission line into Downeast Maine. It extends 43 miles from a new transfer station in Ellsworth to Columbia, where it reconnects with the main line.
Company officials say the project took seven years to complete including two years for design.
"We looked at things like energy efficiency that might reduce the demand," said Steve Sloan, who is a project manager for Bangor Hydro, "we determined that...neither of those would really bring the reliability that we needed and neither of those would bring the capacity to the grid itself."
"If we had another situation where one of those lines went out due to poles coming down and wires going to the ground...the other line will be able to carry the entire electricity load for Downeast Maine," remarked Kim Wadleigh, who is the vice president of 'T&D Operations' for the company.
Bangor Hydro officials say the project cost $61 million dollars in all. They also say since the project supports regional electricity rate payers throughout New England will share in paying for it.