The rights to a 200-mile-long fuel pipeline from Limestone to Searsport will be auctioned off next month because the current lessee, Loring BioEnergy, has defaulted on its lease payments.
Built in the 1950s, the pipeline was once used to send jet fuel from tanks on the coast to Loring Air Force Base, according to the Bangor Daily News. The corridor is owned by Loring Development Authority, a nonprofit that oversees the Loring Commerce Center, and Loring BioEnergy was leasing the pipeline as part of its plan to build a cogeneration power facility at the former base. It planned to have natural gas piped through the line to power the plant, and sell electricity it generated to the New England power grid. However, the project has stalled along with delays to build a transmission line to connect the Aroostook County grid to the New England grid.
Loring BioEnergy Vice President Hayes Gahagan told the paper the company is exploring building its own transmission line to connect to the regional grid, but in the meantime has fallen behind on its pipeline lease payments.
The auction is scheduled for June 4 in Limestone, and bidders are required to submit $450,000 to participate. The value of the lease is estimated to be more than $5 million.
Maine Public Service Co. in 2009 first proposed a transmission line to connect The County to the rest of Maine, but that was scrapped due to costs and technical problems. In 2010, the company proposed a 26-mile line from Haynesville to Houlton that would be privately funded. As of last fall, the company had completed studies on the project and said it expected the line to be built in 2014.