Aroostook Renewable Gateway FAQs

Routing

Since being selected to develop the project in October 2022, the LSPGM project team has evaluated dozens of potential routes. In July 2023, LS Power Grid Maine, LLC (LSPGM) held six Open Houses to receive public feedback on the proposed alternative routes. September 2023 was the initial target date to submit the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) application to the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for approval. However, due to large amounts of landowner feedback, this target date has been extended to continue the evaluation of all feedback received. LSPGM plans to introduce new additional routes in upcoming Open Houses which will result in the PUC filing to occur at a later to be determined date. Even when the CPCN application is filed, state and federal agencies can provide feedback that could require LSPGM to modify the route. A route could take until 2026 to be finalized and approved.

Because a final route has not been approved at this time, it is not possible to determine if the route will or will not impact specific parcels. Please see our July 2023 Open House Mapbooks to determine if you may be impacted by the initial alternative routes.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection defines ‘Abutter’ as any person who owns property that is BOTH (1) adjoining and (2) within one mile of the delineated project boundary, including owners of property directly across a public or private right of way.

Where practicable, we plan to collocate within or along existing corridors. Existing transmission corridors in the northern portion of our project area have enough physical space to accommodate the new transmission infrastructure, and we have proposed to occupy that space. Other existing transmission line corridors in our project area do not have sufficient space to accept our proposed transmission infrastructure, so corridor widening (tree clearing) is required along some segments. One of the major factors that prevents collocation is the presence of inhabited dwellings adjacent to existing corridors. As time has passed since those corridors were developed, homes, businesses, and inhabited dwellings have been built and now currently abut or are adjacent to those corridors. In these instances, a significant number of homes would need to be removed or would ultimately be in close proximity to the new transmission corridor if existing corridors were used.

LSPGM identified Interstate 95 as a potential corridor to utilize and evaluated several route options with the Maine Department of Transportation. After further discussion, the Maine DOT has determined the line is not a compatible use of their corridor.

The Right of Way is generally 150’ wide.

Land Acquisition

After the CPCN filing with the PUC, LSPGM will request rights-of-entry for surveying to determine if the land is suitable for the transmission line. Then, if LSPGM finds the land to be suitable, easement terms and payment will be negotiated.

Yes, landowners will be paid a negotiated amount for an easement that grants LSPGM the right to construct and operate the transmission line. Landowners will still maintain ownership of the underlying property. Initial offers for the easements will be greater than the fair market value of the underlying land included in the easement. Fair market value is based on property statistics and the sale price of comparable land plots sold in the region. Local appraisers will conduct area market studies to determine land values of different land types at different locations along our proposed transmission line corridor.

LSPGM will be responsible for paying the property taxes for the real property associated with the transmission lines.

Land and Environmental Impacts

Whatever activities are currently conducted on the property (e.g., farming, hunting, ATV/snowmobile use, etc.) can continue as long as it does not jeopardize the safe operation of the transmission facilities. Construction may present some limited, temporary restrictions for safety reasons.

Environmental surveys to be completed include geotechnical investigations, wetlands/waters delineation, vernal pool surveys, surveys for plants and wildlife, surveys for cultural resources (i.e., historic buildings/structures and buried artifacts), soil survey (shallow soil borings with hand-auger), boundary/plat survey, and general field reconnaissance.

After filing with the CPCN petition with the PUC, LSPGM will request rights-of-entry for surveying to gain access to privately owned property so that the environmental surveys can be completed.

LSPGM’s alternative routes avoid designated state lands. The project’s legislative approval does not authorize us to cross designated state lands. LSPGM intends to avoid conserved lands as well.

Engineering and Design

The single circuit structures are typically 110 ft tall whereas the double circuit structures are typically 140 ft tall. These variations depend on the specific type of structure used, the local terrain and the segment of the line. A typical distance between structures ranges from 700-1100 ft.

The existing structures have not been designed for nor are they capable of carrying new suitable conductors (wires) because of strength limitations and there is not enough room on existing structures to add wires while maintaining electrical clearances between the wires and the ground. Additionally, the existing structures in the shared corridors are primarily wood structures, some of which are approaching the end of their useful life.  To maintain acceptable reliability standards, this aging infrastructure requires a significant amount of upkeep and regular replacements.

There are many different engineering studies required to define the rating of a transmission line, and potentially many different numbers could be considered the “rating” of a transmission line.  Each of the circuits on the double circuit towers between Aroostook and the existing ISO New England system will be physically capable of carrying more power than 1,200 MW, but the thermal rating of the lines does not define the system capability. In the New England grid, the “loss-of-source limit” is 1,200 MW, which is the controlling limit on the capability of our lines.  This means the maximum generation that can be lost due to a single contingency, such as the outage of our lines, is currently defined as 1,200 MW.  No more than 1,200 MW can be delivered from Aroostook into the existing ISO New England system.

Construction, Operations and Maintenance

LSPGM will prioritize using existing roads and ROW to the extent feasible. If this is not an option, then new access paths/roads will be constructed. These access points will be used to get trucks and equipment into the ROW and will be negotiated in an access easement. Your property may not be an off-ROW access point, but there will be one in the vicinity to access the ROW on your land.

Where clearing of trees is required for construction, trees may be cleared using hand equipment (chainsaw), mechanized clearing techniques, or a combination of both. The types of machines that could be used for tree clearing include rubber-tire mounted loaders, tracked or rubber-tire mounted Feller Bunchers, and tracked, low-ground-pressure equipment (e.g., Caterpillar Bobcat). Cut vegetation may be hauled away, burned (in accordance with a permit, 12 MSA §§ 9321-9327), or mulched/chipped and spread on the uncultivated upland portions of the transmission corridor. Disposal of slash must comply with the Maine Slash Law (12 MSA § 9333), which prohibits stockpiling of slash within a utility right-of-way. No stump grinding will occur. All vegetation cut in wetland areas will be removed from wetlands. Mats will be used as necessary for temporary roads to protect the environment.

LS Power will conduct Operations activities. Maintenance will be the responsibility of LS Power but may be self-performed or contracted out.

The landowner will have no obligation to maintain the ROW; the ROW will be maintained by LSPGM. Landowners may choose to keep the ROW mowed for their own use but will not be reimbursed by LSPGM for doing so.

Landowner Rights

The easement agreement defines the rights that we will obtain (generally includes the rights to construct, own, operate, maintain, and access this infrastructure). For easements, generally the landowner can do most things they used to do except things that would compromise the integrity or reliability of the facilities.  Some examples of prohibited activities are digging to close to a structure, planting vegetation (trees) in the ROW that could come in contract with the line, installing a building or structure in the ROW, install a swimming pool, or changing the grade of the land within the ROW.

LSPGM does not object to this use but will acquire only easements for the project. The underlying owner of the property has the ultimate authority to grant this permission. Construction of the transmission facilities may present some limited, temporary restrictions for safety reasons.

Public Involvement

Project updates will be posted on our website and Facebook page. To provide questions or comments to LS Power, please visit the ‘Contact’ tab of our website.

To provide questions or comments to LS Power, please visit the ‘Contact’ tab of our website. There will be several opportunities for public comment as part of our applications for federal, state, and municipal approvals.

Misc

ISO-NE is the independent, not-for-profit corporation responsible for keeping electricity flowing across the six New England states and ensuring that the region has reliable, competitively priced wholesale electricity today and into the future.

The Maine PUC regulates electric, gas, telephone, and water utilities to ensure that Maine citizens have access to safe and reliable utility services at rates that are just and reasonable for residential and business consumers and public utilities, while also helping achieve reductions in state greenhouse gas emissions. The Commission, created by the Maine Legislature in 1913, has broad powers to regulate public utilities in Maine including electricity, telephone, water, and gas providers. The Commission also responds to customer questions and complaints, grants utility operating authority, regulates utility service standards and monitors utility operations for safety and reliability.

Electric transmission facilities consist of transmission lines, substations, transformers, and other related equipment. Transmission lines transport high-voltage electricity from generation facilities to local distribution systems, which then disperse lower-voltage electricity to homes and businesses for use. These transmission lines can be overhead wires or underground cables, depending on the electrical grid, environmental, and community needs for a specific application. Substations are the intersections of transmission lines that allow electricity to flow from one circuit to another on its way to consumers. Substations also contain specialized equipment that monitors and protects the electrical grid, controls flow to prevent overloads, and transforms electricity from higher voltages that enable efficient long-distance transmission to lower voltages that can be used in homes and business.

Competition in regional transmission planning processes introduces new and innovative solutions to the design, construction, finance, and operation of transmission projects. Most importantly, though, competition has led to the introduction of cost caps that shift the risk of project cost overruns away from ratepayers to developers.  Without competition, incumbent utilities have not been willing to accept the risk of cost overruns on their transmission projects, and extra costs often translate to higher electric bills for ratepayers.

Due to several towns having overlapping parcel IDs, LS Power Grid Maine created their own unique map parcel indicator numbers to identify each parcel in the project study area.

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