For two weeks in February, expert witness hearings will be held at the Maine Public Utilities Commission in the case regarding Central Maine Power’s proposal to expand its transmission network in Maine. The expert witness hearings will start at 9 a.m. from Feb. 2 to Feb. 5 and Feb. 9 to Feb. 12 at the commission’s Hallowell offices at 101 Second St.

At the hearings, expert witnesses for CMP and intervenors will be cross-examined on their previously filed testimony in the case, and will respond to questions from commissioners and staff and other parties. The hearings are not a forum for public input, although the public can attend the hearings except when witnesses are asked questions about protected or confidential information (such as questions regarding critical energy infrastructure, confidential by federal law for national security reasons).  The public portions of the hearings will be streamed from the commission Web site.

CMP is an electric transmission and distribution utility regulated by the commission. CMP submitted its plans for the expansion — labeled the Maine Power Reliability Project — in July 2008. The project goes through several Midcoast towns, including Waldoboro and Warren. The company seeks the commission’s approval for new construction and reconstruction of approximately 350 miles of 345 kilovolt and 115 kv transmission lines and several substations throughout Maine. The approximate cost of the project is $1.5 billion.

It is the commission’s responsibility to carry out a rigorous examination of the transmission system’s reliability needs, the utility’s preferred solution and alternative proposals put forward. Since the case was filed, more than 150 parties filed for intervenor status.  There have been extensive data and technical filings, computer modeling and expert consultant analysis, and many technical conferences.  Four public witness hearings have been held. The commission is expected to decide the case in May 2010.

For more information visit maine.gov/mpuc and access the Virtual Case File and see documents in docket No. 2008-255.