A huge autotransformer is now in place at a Central Maine Power Company (CMP) substation under construction in the Kennebec County community of Benton. The 286-ton transformer completed its 45-mile journey from the Mack Point cargo terminal in Searsport to the Albion Road Substation in Benton last week.

The Albion Road Substation is being built as part of CMP’s Maine Power Reliability Program, or MPRP. The MPRP is the utility’s $1.4 billion upgrade of its transmission system. The project will contribute to the long-term reliability of the New England electrical grid and increase capacity for the integration of new renewable generation in the region. The MPRP has also been projected to provide more than 2,000 jobs and new economic activity to the state during the five years of construction.

“Having this important piece of equipment in place at Albion Road represents a major milestone in this project. This substation will be a major hub in our system, providing power to communities throughout the central and northern part of our service area,” says Doug Herling, vice president for Special Projects at CMP. “Moving this equipment caused some disruption to traffic patterns along highways and country roads between Searsport and Benton this week, and we appreciate motorists’ patience and understanding as we completed this very difficult task.”

The Albion Road Substation autotransformer is among the largest units in the CMP system. Transformers are used to raise or lower voltage on electrical systems. The Albion Road transformer will step down transmission line voltage from 345 kV to 115 kV to supply the electrical grid for communities in Franklin, Kennebec, Piscataquis, Somerset, and Waldo counties. Two 345-kV lines and five 115-kV lines will interconnect at Albion Road. The facility will also offer better voltage regulation and switching capacity, a common process that involves the transfer of electrical load to other substation equipment or overhead lines for maintenance work and during line outages.

Crews will also build a control house, approximately 32 x 80 feet, near the center of the 10.4-acre substation yard.

Construction on the Albion Road Substation began about a year ago. It is one of five large substations being built as part of the MPRP. In addition to the new substations, the five-year project includes upgrades to more than 40 existing substations and the installation or rebuilding of nearly 440 miles of transmission line in 75 communities from Eliot to Orrington.