Iberdrola USA and Central Maine Power Company have launched two projects with investments totaling more than $1.5 billion that will have a major impact on Maine’s electricity delivery system as well as bring wider benefits to New England as a whole.

Iberdrola Group Chairman Ignacio Galán, and Maine Governor John E. Baldacci marked the start of the $1.4 billion Maine Power Reliability Program (MPRP), a project that will support the development of new renewable energy resources and help ensure long-term reliability for customers by increasing the capacity and efficiency of the New England’s transmission grid.

The MPRP, which will be completed in 2015, will support up to 2000 jobs annually during the five-year construction phase, with a peak of more than 3,000, and contribute significantly to the Maine economy. The project is the largest energy infrastructure project in the state’s history, and the first upgrade of its electricity grid in 40 years.

The Iberdrola Chairman and Governor Baldacci also installed the first of 620,000 advanced electricity meters that will be installed for CMP customers as part of a new smart grid program to be developed over the next two years. This $166 million project, covered in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, will enable CMP customers to access pricing and usage information through a web portal so they can better manage energy use and cost.

“The transmission project will be one of the largest construction projects in Maine’s history,” said Sara Burns, president of CMP. “Our state will have a smarter, stronger grid when it’s complete. While the project is about building critical infrastructure to serve Maine for generations, in the short term it will mean jobs when Maine needs them.”

The MPRP includes the construction of five new 345-kV substations and related facilities linked by approximately 450 miles of new or rebuilt transmission lines. The southern end of the line ties into the New England grid near the New Hampshire border. It passes through 75 cities and towns, and the northern end interconnects with transmission lines from Canada in the central Maine town of Orrington. CMP introduced the plan after a comprehensive study of the region’s electricity grid determined the need for an upgrade to guarantee the reliability of CMP’s system and surrounding areas for years to come.