In June 2010, ECI began a new five year project in Maine for Iberdrola USA / Central Maine Power. Iberdrola is one of five major electric utilities covering the country of Spain. They also own three electric utility companies - Central Main Power (CMP), New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG), Rochester Gas and Electric - and four gas utilities in the USA.
The project is called the Maine Power Reliability Project (MPRP) and covers 500 miles of new or expanded 345KV Right-Of-Way (ROW), extending from Portland, Maine north to Bangor, Maine and westward. The transmission lines will bring the power generated by new wind turbines to the population centers in eastern Maine. The right-of-way will traverse some of the most rugged, beautiful and pristine wilderness in the eastern United States. Much of central and northern Maine is so remote and unpopulated the counties don't even have names, just numbers!
The MPRP project is the single, largest project for Iberdrola in the history of the company and is expected to total $1.6 billion. Line clearing is expected to take three years, and the environmental documents alone comprise manuals with over 6,000 pages of maps, permits, specifications and instructions. Burns & McDonnell is the Project Manager and ECI is the subcontractor on this project providing environmental expertise and communications.
Four ECI team members are working on the project as either Environmental Coordinators or Communications Specialists. The Environmental Coordinators will travel 100% of the ROW along with the Army Corps of Engineers, Federal and State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) personnel, and a third party inspector (TPI), Burns & McDonnell’s personnel to identify vernal pools, eagle nesting habitat, endangered species, wetland crossings, etc. The purpose of these individuals working together before and during field meetings is to gain agreement on mitigation methods, expedite the clearing process, abide by all landowner (abutter's) stipulations and to avoid work delays as a result of environmental concerns or conflicts.
ECI's Communications Specialists will assure that all parties involved with the clearing project are kept abreast of the current schedule, that proper notifications to municipalities and highway departments are on-track, and mitigate contentious situations and public relations issues. The Communications Specialists will also funnel the information from the field work activity, including abutter's issues to the project manager and keep the Project Manager updated as to the project's progress, including the rolling 14 day plans for roadway activity, ROW clearing, equipment set-up, and any other activity that might attract public attention.
Although ECI's involvement on this project differs from many of our utility vegetation management activities, the forestry and environmental knowledge needed for this project fit ECI’s skill-set perfectly. Three of our people on the project are degreed environmental specialists and the forth is a degreed forester with significant environmental background working on transmission ROWs. We are excited about the critical role we are providing for this project and are actively seeking more projects of a similar nature.