Houlton Water Company gets $1.7 million to upgrade key power transmission line

12 months ago

HOULTON, Maine — U.S. Congressionally directed funding will help the Houlton Water Co. upgrade a 40-year-old aging power transmission line.

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee last week approved $1,749,000 million in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill for the Houlton Water Co., one of three Maine electrical, water and waste water projects approved for FY 2024.  

The Camden Mountainside Community Cooperative Sewer Improvements Project was also approved for $1.3 million to connect a sewer extension to a community-owned mobile home park for low to moderate income individuals. The town of Howland’s Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project will receive $700,000 to improve the structural integrity of the town’s water tank and standpipe. 

“Maintaining and upgrading electrical and water infrastructure is vital to ensuring the economic and environmental health of communities throughout Maine,” U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement. 

Maine’s aging infrastructure improvement projects have fallen behind because state and federal funding cannot meet the need, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, infrastructure report card. Like the Houlton Water Company’s main sub-transmission line, many of the state’s electricity infrastructures are 40 or 50 years old. Without replacement there could be less reliability in the system. 

The line in question runs along a 4-mile section of the Drew’s Lake Road from the Galen Hogan substation and into the Louisiana Pacific manufacturing plant. 

“This increases LPs reliability and increases Houlton’s reliability, “ said Greg Sherman, general manager of the Houlton Water Co.

The way Sherman explains it, the 34.5-kilovolt subtransmission line goes from substation to substation where the transmission voltage is stepped down and distributed. 

Sherman said that the section being replaced is part of a larger electricity transmission loop that helps the company prevent outages. If they lose a portion of a power feed, they can close that section, go around it and continue to transmit power. 

The line is operable but it is de-energized, Sherman said, adding that in the event of an outage, they can go to the line and re-energize it. 

Once they have the new line, they will have it energized all the time and that will reduce the length of time power is out, he said.

If the funding for the Houlton Water Co. passes the U.S. House and U.S. Senate and is signed by President Joe Biden, Sherman said he will start the engineering process and put the project out to bid, hopefully in January or February. 

“The line is almost 45 years old and past its prime,” Sherman said. “It will be a huge help to our customers.”