One of the USA’s key electricity transmission projects has moved forward with the award of principal construction contracts by Central Maine Power.

The New England-based utility, which is owned by Spain’s Iberdrola Group, has awarded contracts worth a total $524 million for the $1.4 billion Maine Power Reliability Programme (MPRP).

The project will upgrade the electricity connections between New England and Canada, and is due for completion in 2015. The principal contracts were awarded to US companies MYR Group, Inc, Irby Construction Co. and Hawkeye LLC.

“We’re building a stronger, smarter grid for Maine,” said Sara Burns, president of Central Maine Power Company. “Nearly 1000 people have worked on this project to date, and we expect as many as 1000 jobs will be added in this next phase of construction.

“The Maine Power Reliability Program is creating jobs when Maine really needs them, and it will ensure Maine has an efficient, reliable grid that will benefit consumers and the environment long into the future.”

Ground-breaking on the project took place in September and the project will benefit electricity interconnections between Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, as well as between Maine and Canada.

The project involves building and upgrading around 800 km of electricity transmission lines of 225 kV and 345 kV, linking 75 towns and villages, with five new 345 kV substations in the northeastern region of the country.

The new infrastructure, which in May received approval from the Maine Public Utility Commission, will benefit 7 million consumers in New England, reinforcing reliability and efficiency of supply. It will also support access for new renewable capacity in Maine, an energy importing state.