BENTON — Representatives from Central Maine Power and the Public Utilities Commission are asking for more time to form a solution to mitigate noise emitting from an Albion Road substation, but a town selectman said he thinks CMP will have to be forced to fix the problem.

A persistent buzz has affected sleep and the way of life in the rural town for more than a year.

A 200-page study by Kansas City-based Burns & McDonnell, a CMP-contracted engineering design firm, outlines several different sound mitigation methods, but Benton selectman Antoine Morin believes that the utility company will not voluntarily reduce the noise.

“What has been indicated to us is that CMP will be forced to do something by the PUC,” Morin said Tuesday afternoon. “Our understanding is that CMP won’t choose one of these options and do the right thing.”

Morin said that he and the rest of the Board of Selectmen are willing to work with CMP and explore any possibilities that would encourage the utility company to put a sound mitigation solution in place.

CMP spokesman John Carroll, however, said the company is not in a position to make a decision on what, if any steps, will take place to reduce the sound, and will allow the process with the Public Utilities Commission to run its course.


Carroll said the study “was an important step for us and the neighbors of the substation to understand what the options might be. Obviously the options are very complex and thorough.”

He said, “What we would expect at this point is the study will be reviewed and discussed. We’re not in a position to take the next step or say what it would be.”

PUC ombudsman Leah Sprague wouldn’t comment in depth about the ongoing discussions with CMP, saying that her role is to act as a mediator between the utility company and the affected residents.

CMP has repeatedly said that the substation is operating within town sound ordinances. After several public meetings in Benton with town officials and affected residents, CMP began requesting proposals for the sound study in January. Burns & McDonnell community relations manager Chris Marshall said the study will take roughly six months.

The report explains that the Albion Road substation, which takes higher voltage current and steps it down to a lower voltage before it’s distributed to nearby communities, is in compliance with state and local sound ordinances, and that increase noise levels are a combination of the substation and other sources of sound, such as wind.

The report also outlines six potential options to mitigate the sound, ranging from building an acoustic sound wall, attaching sound buffers to the noise making machinery or enclosing the entire transformer in a sound-reducing structure. Costs of the project range from more than $800,000 to nearly $2.6 million. Several of the options don’t have corresponding price estimates because of further manufacturer engineering analysis.


Morin said it feels like the process is dragging its feet.

“We’re getting runaround as a board, residents are frustrated,” Morin said. “The next step from my vantage point is to have CMP be a good corporate citizen and take on one of the solutions proposed in the report.”

Jesse Scardina — 861-9239

Twitter: @jessescardina

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