Making sure the Aroostook Gateway Project benefits us
Last week, I attended a community meeting in Howland hosted by LS Power to discuss plans for their transmission line project. Called the Aroostook Gateway Project, it’s designed to connect the King Pine Wind Project in Aroostook County with Maine’s broader electric grid.
These energy infrastructure upgrades are designed to bring cheaper, renewable electricity to Maine, creating more clean power while lowering Mainers’ electric bills. That’s why the Legislature gave initial, bipartisan backing to the project earlier this year.
With initiatives like these, the devil is in the details. That’s why I was glad to have the opportunity to attend the open house on July 12 along with Sen. Nicole Grohoski, D-Ellsworth, who represents neighboring District 7. She serves on the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee and has been one of the strongest advocates for the financial interests of Maine ratepayers in the Legislature.
Sen. Grohoski had some good questions around electricity output, project costs and benefits, and construction details.
Although the path of the Aroostook Gateway transmission line isn’t finalized, one proposed route would take it through portions of Howland, Alton, Lagrange and Edinburg here in District 8.
From talking to LS Power representatives, local municipal officials and people in our area who own land on or near the proposed route, the company seems to have done a good job in planning a route that will cause a minimum of disruption. The proposed path mostly follows existing power line corridors and roads.
They’ve taken deer wintering areas, ATV trails, vulnerable wetlands and other geographic and ecological features into account. They also seem very willing to adjust the path to accommodate local needs.
To make sure that they know what they need to accommodate, they need to hear from us during this planning phase. They sent informational packets by mail to everyone who owns parcels on or abutting the proposed route, but some may have been mistaken for junk mail. For others, the land may have changed hands and the information may not have been sent to the right owners.
If you’d like to view the proposed route, including detailed maps of local land parcels, visit lspgridmaine.com. If you have questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com and copy me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can help keep an eye on things as well. If you feel the company isn’t being responsive to your concerns, please let me know.
High electricity prices have been one of the biggest, increasing burdens on Maine families over the past three years. That’s why I was proud to sponsor and pass a law this year (working with Sen. Grohoski) to increase transparency of spending by our monopoly electric utilities and ban the use of ratepayer dollars for lobbying and political ads.
As our state energy mix continues to change — with more heat pumps and electric cars meaning more reliance on electricity — there will be more projects like this one and more conversations that will need to take place around how they will be structured and who will benefit. I want to make sure everyone in our area is included in those conversations.
If you or someone you know needs any assistance or needs to get in touch with a government agency, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Sen. Mike Tipping, D-Orono, at Mike.Tipping@legislature.maine.gov or call my legislative office at 207-287-1515.