Central Maine Power Company (CMP) has announced the start of its Maine Power Reliability Program (MPRP), a major initiative to ensure the continued reliability of its bulk power transmission system which includes 475 miles of 345,000 V lines (345 kV) plus substations and control facilities that link New Brunswick, Canada to New Hampshire and southern New England. The system has operated reliably for almost 40 years without significant changes. The MPRP will address Maine's significant growth over the past four decades and the region's expanding need for a reliable electric system.

"The transmission lines that make up the backbone of our system were built in the early 1970s," said CMP President Sara Burns. "Those lines are now like a congested roadway with too many cars and trucks. This congestion raises costs and makes the whole system less reliable. What we built nearly 40 years ago has served us well, but it's our responsibility to modernize our system and keep ahead of growing demand."

"The MPRP will require a greater level of investment in the bulk power system," Burns added. "We already make substantial annual investments in our local transmission and distribution facilities, including $340 million over the past five years. As the MPRP project moves ahead, we will continue that effort in addition to our new investments in the 345 kV system."

By late 2007, CMP expects to complete a comprehensive study of the region's power needs and electrical infrastructure as the first step in the MPRP. The company is preparing the study in coordination with the Independent System Operator for New England (ISO-NE), which operates the region's bulk electric power system and oversees the regional electric energy market.

The study will lay the groundwork for developing a multi-year plan for system enhancements and will include:

  • A 10-year load forecast for Maine and the surrounding region.
  • An evaluation of the performance of the existing bulk power system in accordance with regional and national reliability standards to identify present and future deficiencies.
  • An assessment of alternatives for keeping Maine's system in compliance under future operating scenarios and identify the most cost-effective alternatives to reinforce the system's reliability and capacity.

CMP recently announced a separate, but related effort to study bulk power transmission connections to northern Maine in cooperation with Maine Public Service Company, the utility that serves the state's northern counties. Any projects to improve the region's bulk power infrastructure will be subject to review and approval of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, ISO-NE, and other regulatory authorities.