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Final tests under way for New Brunswick-Maine power line

Nov 26, 2007 - The Associated Press

Final testing is under way for a new 345-megawatt power transmission line between Maine and New Brunswick, which will link the electrical systems of the state and the Canadian Maritimes Provinces.

NB Power began construction of the 58-mile line from Point Lepreau, New Brunswick, to the Maine border in 2006. In Maine, the line extends 85 miles to Bangor Hydro-Electric Co.'s Orrington substation. From there, the power feeds into the New England grid.

Utility officials on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border said the new line will provide greater reliability and efficiency as result of increased capacity to and from New England.

NB Power spokeswoman Heather McLean said that will be important when the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant goes off-line in the spring for an 18-month long refurbishment. The utility has signed a contract that will allow Hydro Quebec to use the line for $9.6 million per year.

NB Power president David Hay said that will pay the mortgage and operating cost of the line while providing New Brunswick customers with a more reliable power grid. The new line will go into service next month.

In Maine, Bangor Hydro spokeswoman Susan Faloon said Monday that the line will also improve the utilities' ability to sell energy back and forth across the border. Bangor Hydro paid $131 million to build the line, known as the Northeast Reliability Interconnect, from the St. Croix River near Baileyville to Orrington.

In February, Maine Gov. John Baldacci and New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham signed a document in which they agreed to look for cooperative ways to expand their electrical interconnections.

Maine has been looking at the possibility of leaving the New England power grid and establishing power-swapping arrangements with neighboring provinces in Canada.