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Albion passes moratorium on utility projects amid fears Aroostook line would hurt farmers

The temporary ban is opposed by some in northern Maine, who stand to benefit from a project that would connect Aroostook County to the Maine grid.

ALBION, Maine — The town of Albion has moved to temporarily block new utility projects within its borders. A new moratorium aims to halt construction on the Aroostook Renewable Gateway—a project planned by the Missouri company LS Power—which received the approval of Governor Mills earlier this summer.

Those opposed to the project say it would hurt agriculture in central Maine. 

“You can’t just cut up the landscape and put in these large high-impact towers and transmission lines,” Tom Bolen, who heads the town’s transmission line committee, said Wednesday.

His concern is shared by local farmers, like Lincoln Sennett, who owns Swan’s Honey—the largest apiary in the state. Sennett worries the transmission line would not only slice through his land, but that the electric and magnetic fields from the power line would disrupt his bees, who he said would become disoriented while flying over the lines.

“That part of our business we would not be able to do in our home anymore. And we would potentially have to move,” Sennett said from his shop on Wednesday.

But in other communities in the state, the transmission line—which is part of a larger clean energy project involving Longroad Energy’s King Pine Wind project, would bring positive change.

Aroostook County is currently part of the Canadian grid, an anomaly in the state. The LS Power line would change that, connecting northern Maine with the rest of the state and the country’s power.

For Cyr Martin, the town manager of Ashland, the proposal would mean real change.

“It would be a very big deal for us. Northern Maine, basically, we don’t get a lot.”

Martin added that the American grid would offer more robust support to mills in the county.

Moratorium or not, LS says the transmission line could be functional as soon as 2028.

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