UNITY — Residents voted at a special town meeting Thursday to adopt a 180-day moratorium on high-voltage power lines in town, making Unity the latest to codify its opposition to a proposed transmission corridor expected to cost in excess of $1 billion.

The vote was unanimous among the roughly 45 residents at the meeting. Selectman Tim Parker Jr. said the moratorium is meant to send a message to LS Power, the Missouri-based utility that plans to connect energy generated by wind farms in Aroostook County with consumers in southern Maine and Massachusetts. The project would require a transmission corridor extending approximately 150 miles into central Maine.

“I think that collaboratively, the more towns that jump onto this, the more teeth we have,” Parker said. “Hopefully it will make (LS Power) pick a different alternative route.”

The moratorium is set to expire in May but it includes a provision allowing selectmen to renew the 180-day period for up to a year and a half.

The vote makes Unity the latest municipality to adopt a moratorium on power line construction in response to the Aroostook Renewable Gateway Project. Ten other towns have taken similar steps, including Albion, Etna, and Palermo, according to Associate Professor Joshua Kercsmar of Unity Environmental College.

Kercsmar is a board member of Preserve Rural Maine, an organization established in opposition to the Aroostook Renewable Gateway Project. He said Unity’s moratorium and others like it aren’t meant to prevent the project from moving forward.


“The moratorium is really intended to give towns a chance to get some ordinance language around how we want these lines to come through the towns,” he said Wednesday. “It’s not our intent to stop the process and we have no illusions that we can just totally put a halt on the project. In fact, many of us don’t want to do that because we’re in favor of green energy.”

Kercsmar said much of the opposition to the project comes from residents concerned that, among other things, the power lines would decrease property values and essentially fracture areas by cutting through farmland and forests.

Similarly sized energy projects elsewhere in the country have addressed such concerns by burying power lines underground, rather than attaching them to tall metal poles as LS Power intends, Kercsmar said.

Doug Mulvey, vice president of project development at LS Power, said Thursday that the corridor is necessary to meet Gov. Janet Mills’ goal to get 100% of Maine’s electricity from renewable power sources by 2040, and that the company is incorporating residents’ concerns in its plans for the project.

“The scope of the project is to take this Maine-made renewable energy in Aroostook County and to get it down into the New England system,” he said. “We’ve heard things like concerns related with impacts to farmland, impacts to ridge and viewsheds, proximity to homes. Our job is to consider that information and try to incorporate it to the extent possible into our routing to minimize impact.”

Mulvey said LS Power has considered burying the lines underground, but that it would make the corridor cost “at least five times more than is currently proposed.” The project as it currently stands is expected to have a net cost of $1.8 billion, with Massachusetts footing 40% of the bill.


The corridor was proposed by LS Power Maine, a subsidiary of LS Power. Aroostook County lacks a connection to New England’s electric grid, but the project plans to address that by building substations in Glenwood Plantation and either Plymouth or Dixmont before connecting them to transmission lines.

The project received support from the Maine Public Utilities Commission and state Legislature before being approved by Mills in June.

State approval of the project is just an initial step in what is expected to be a yearslong process to secure permits from several regulatory agencies. LS Power is pushing to have land clearing begin in 2026 with the corridor completed in 2028.

After holding a series of open houses in towns along the proposed corridor, Mulvey said LS Power has begun considering alternate routes to accommodate residents’ concerns. The utility is planning to propose other routes early next year, he said.

“We feel that we need to add some additional alternative routes to the map, and come out with additional routes,” he said. “We’re not certain how many we have right now, nor the exact schedule.”

“We’re really early in this process,” he added. “We haven’t figured out a final route yet.”

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