Neighbors wary about CMP's plans for Cumberland substation

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CUMBERLAND — The Planning Board is scheduled to hear a request from Central Maine Power Co. on Tuesday, Aug. 17, to build a transmission substation at 37 Greely Road.

CMP hosted an informational session at Cumberland Town Hall on Tuesday, where residents asked questions and voiced concerns about the proposal.

The company will make a pre-application presentation to the board next week, when a site visit is to be scheduled. CMP will return to the board later to request the installation of transmission lines that would run from Pownal to the substation, and both elements of the company’s proposal must ultimately have major site plan review.

The proposal is part of the Maine Power Reliability Program, through which CMP plans to spend $1.4 billion to modernize its 40-year-old bulk power system. The upgrades are intended to ensure that the system operates reliability in the future and to create new energy infrastructure.

The program has received permits from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Public Utilities Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said Drew McMullin, community relations manager with Burns & McDonnell, the program manager and engineers for the Maine Power Reliability Program. Burns & McDonnell is overseeing the project for CMP.

Local permits are also required from the 75 municipalities impacted by the program from Eliot to Orrington, 54 of which have so far granted approval, McMullin said.

During Tuesday’s session, some people who own land near the substation site expressed concern about the project’s implications.

Terry Girouard and her husband Len Jordan, who live at 21 Greely Road, have a well that stands about 100 feet from the proposed substation driveway, while the substation itself would be about 200 feet from the back of their yard.

Although their property looked like a good deal at the time Girouard bought it five years ago, “things have changed radically,” Jordan said.

They are concerned about the devaluation of their property because of the substation’s proximity, as well as lighting issues, and noise during the anticipated 12 to 18 months of construction.

Girouard and Jordan said they hope CMP will buy their property so that they can move elsewhere.

“We want to get out,” Girouard said.

John Chandler owns land and has family at 208 Middle Road, roughly 2,000 feet from the proposed substation.

“I can’t see that it’s going to be an asset to the neighborhood,” he said, adding that he hopes the substation, if built, creates as little impact as possible in terms of noise and lighting.

He said the construction period will be difficult for neighbors.

Nearly 440 miles of new or rebuilt transmission lines would be installed in the 75 municipalities, and five new substations such as that which would be housed in Cumberland are planned.

McMullin said about 2,000 jobs would be associated with the project.

“It’s one of the largest projects proposed in New England for transmission, and it’s a process that’s been going on since 2008,” he said, “and we foresee the construction process taking five years to complete.”

The Public Utilities Commission has not yet approved the design for the Pownal-Cumberland line, so CMP continues to work with abutters to address design concerns or questions they have, McMullin said. The PUC has approved the substation.

CMP has either purchased land or is in the process of purchasing it from neighbors and abutters in the vicinity of the proposed substation, McMullin said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.