No support in Albion for LS Power electric transmission developer

Farmers with equipment and local residents showed up at the Besse Building, in Albion, to protest the installation of an electric transmission line through their town. (photo by Jonathan Strieff)

by Jonathan Strieff

On July 19, representatives from LS Power, an electric transmission developer from Missouri, hosted an open house in Albion to begin community outreach among landowners impacted by the proposed transmission line. The event was the fifth of six such meetings along the proposed route, starting in Mattawam­keag, and concluding in Windsor.

Prior to the event, nearly three dozen farmers from Albion, China, and Palermo and their supporters gathered outside for a “tractor drive-in” and press conference to vocalize opposition to the project.

The Aroostook Renewable Gateway is a new 345 kV transmission corridor approved by the state legislature to connect King Pine Wind near Webbertown Township to the existing power grid substation in Windsor.

The new transmission lines would deliver up to 1,200 MW of electricity from 170 new wind turbines in Aroostook County to the regional power grid. Sixty percent of the energy generated would be purchased by Central Maine Power and Versant, while the remaining 40 percent would go to Massachusetts.

Ahead of the open house series, LS Power sent more than 3,500 letters to landowners impacted by the proposed route with the goal of soliciting feedback.

(photo by Jonathan Strieff)

Representative Doug Mulvey explained on Wednesday each letter included a unique code corresponding to a map of the corridor. In addition to informational posters and promotional materials, LS Power representatives brought a bank of laptops to each open house event to allow landowners to identify to the company unseen constraints on individual parcels. While the application and permitting process is already underway, LS Power is seeking landowner input to modify the final route to be submitted to the Public Utilities Commission by the end of the year. Outside, local farmers parked their tractors along Main Street decorated with signs opposing the project. Chuck Noyes, owner of Noyes Family Farm in Albion, addressed the economic, environmental, and cultural concerns that the transmission line poses.

“This is one of very few areas still being intensively farmed. Our farms are the backbone of the regional economy and we don’t need to make it harder for us.” Noyes farms 370 acres that have been in his family for over 100 years. Troy Nelson, a beef producer, from Paler­mo, farms land over a distilled gas pipeline from Buckeye Petro­leum and worries about the risks posed by the power lines crossing the aging infrastructure. Matt Dow, from Sweetland Farm, in Al­bion, sought cla­ri­fication about how the development might impact his organic certification. Lincoln Sennett, owner of Swan’s Honey, spoke to the harms to his bees and other wildlife by electromagnetic fields created by the power lines. “Honey bees, migratory birds, and other animals depend on geological magnetism to be able to navigate,” Sennet said, and EMFs from high transmission main lines have been shown to disrupt this. “Bees and beekeepers don’t need one more stressor.”

The farmers are reaching out to town and state officials for any kind of help protecting their farmland and businesses from the impacts of the transmission line.

“We can’t fight with the money and lobbyists that LS Power has,” said Holly Noyes. “But we can show the will of the people, that the project does not have local support.”

If the PUC approves the final route proposal next year, LS Power anticipates completing right of way acquisitions by late 2025, beginning construction in early 2027, bringing the project in-service by mid-2028.


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