MEPCO (Maine Electric Power Company) is a corporation jointly owned by Central Maine Power (CMP) and Emera Maine that owns the 182-mile transmission line from Maine Yankee to the Canadian Border. MEPCO strives to be a good neighbor to those who own property along, and within, its transmission pathways.
Because we have an obligation to the public to provide safe, reliable electric service, we sometimes need to build or upgrade lines, and thus expand or acquire new transmission pathways. If building a new or upgraded line is in the public’s best interest, MEPCO is accountable to the people of Maine for building the new facility in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. When a project includes land acquisition, MEPCO’s respectful and collaborative approach allows us to reach mutual agreement with landowners on most acquisitions.
Project Overview - Chester to Pittsfield
Maine’s transmission lines are essential energy infrastructure. They move bulk power across the system and help deliver electricity to thousands of businesses and households. As with any type of infrastructure, it is important to maintain and upgrade the system, prepare for future growth and ensure the availability of safe and reliable power at the lowest possible price.
The region needs a new transmission line from the Keene Road substation in Chester, Maine to a new substation in Pittsfield, Maine. This project will relieve congestion, reduce line losses, boost reliability and accommodate new generation from renewable resources. It is a collaborative effort of Central Maine Power and Emera Maine and will be developed as a MEPCO project.
The two utilities currently own some land in the towns where this line will be built, but they will need to purchase additional easements to finalize a route for this new transmission line.
Landowners along transmission routes are our neighbors and our most important stakeholders. We meet with landowners and towns early in a collaborative process in order to select a route that works for all parties. Our goal is to find a route that protects sensitive town features and minimizes landowner and environmental impacts.
Right of Way Acquisition
Most of the acquisition for this project will take place through easements. An easement is a permanent right granted to another party to use land for a specific purpose. The easements we seek would be for the construction, use, access to and maintenance of transmission lines. The landowner usually retains all other rights. In some circumstances, and if the owner has a preference to sell the land, a purchase “in fee simple” is possible. Unlike an easement, a fee-simple or outright purchase is an actual transfer of ownership and rights to the land.
When we approach an owner, we respect how important that land is to an individual or family. Therefore we work with the owner to decide on a location on their land that works for them. We are also committed to paying fair market value.
When an agreement is reached, we usually seek to first acquire an “option” for the easement or land. An option is an agreement through which the owner commits to sell at an agreed-upon price for a stated period of time (usually two years). If the buyer decides to complete the purchase - or “exercise” the option - the option payment is applied to the total purchase price. If the option is not exercised, the landowner keeps the option payment.
MEPCO covers the cost of most surveying, title work, and legal documentation for both types of right-of-way acquisitions.
Permitting and Project Sensitivities
We carefully consider many factors as we design and build new and upgraded transmission lines to meet national standards for safety, environmental sensitivity and reliability. These factors include resource protection, wetlands and wildlife habitat, cultural sensitivities, community and visual impacts, and proximity to neighboring homes.
Any project is subject to thorough review during the permitting phase. Local, state, and federal agencies consider all of these factors during a very public and transparent process.
Partnering for Maine's Energy Future
Projects such as this one bring economic benefits to landowners, communities and the state. Transmission lines and substations contribute to the local tax base and any time a system is upgraded, it means new local jobs and vendor services.
Central Maine Power and Emera Maine have a history of working together on energy infrastructure projects that benefit Maine, such as this transmission line between Chester and Pittsfield. We do so through our shared ownership of the Maine Electric Power Company (MEPCO).
Our MEPCO representatives look forward to speaking with town officials, landowners and other interested parties as we prepare for our energy future together.