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Maine State Highway Utility Location Permit (3-ME-d)

In Maine, a developer may need to obtain a State Highway Utility Location Permit from the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) to construct a facility upon and along state highways and public roads for projects that will “…generat[e], sell[ ], distribut[e], or supply...electricity.” Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, § 2501. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, § 2502(1).


Generally, a project developer should initiate the State Highway Utility Location Permit process early on in the design and preliminary planning stages. Depending on the nature and scale of the project, the developer may be required to submit various permit applications and supplemental information. Projects involving private facilities require an additional Private Facility Exception License and large-scale projects have additional coordination requirements encompassed in the Utility Location Permit review process. Project developers may also be able to streamline the Utility Location Permit review process for smaller scale projects. Developers can utilize the MaineDOT’s Permit-By-Rule and receive automatic approval of Utility Location Permit applications within fourteen (14) or thirty (30) days of submission. 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(2)(C)(5).

MaineDOT regulates state highway right-of way permits pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, § 2503 and Maine Department of Transportation – Utility Accommodation Rules.


State Highway Utility Location Permit Process

3-ME-d.1– Contact MaineDOT

A developer should contact the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) to review application requirements for the proposed project. 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(6)(A). Generally, a project developer should initiate the State Highway Utility Location Permit process early on in the design and preliminary planning stages. Depending on the nature and scale of the project, the developer may be required to submit various permit applications and supplemental information.

Projects involving private facilities require an additional Private Facility Exception License and large-scale projects have additional coordination requirements encompassed in the Utility Location Permit review process. Project developers may also be able to streamline the Utility Location Permit review process for smaller scale projects. Developers can utilize the MaineDOT’s Permit-By-Rule and receive automatic approval of Utility Location Permit applications within fourteen (14) or thirty (30) days of submission. 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(2)(C)(5).

3-ME-d.2 to 3-ME-d.3 – Does the Project Cross Existing or Proposed Facilities?

If the project crosses existing or known-proposed utility facilities, then the developer must initiate consultation with impacted developers regarding the proposed project. Although there are different permit processes and requirements based on the type and location of a proposed facility, developers of all proposed bulk transmission projects within a state highway right-of-way must coordinate with impacted utilities.

3-ME-d.4 to 3-ME-d.5– Does the Project Require Access to a Municipal or County Right-of-Way?

In addition, depending on the location of the project, the applicant (developer) may be required to submit a Utility Location Permit Application to MaineDOT or the appropriate municipal authority. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, § 2502(1). If the project requires access to a city street, town way, or state or state-aid highway in a compact area of a compact urban municipality, then the project developer must obtain approval from the appropriate municipal authority. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, § 2502(1)(B). Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, § 2502(1)(B). MaineDOT may designate compact areas or built-up sections within compact urban municipalities. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 754(2)(A).

Generally, an urban compact municipality is an area with a population that exceeds 7,500 inhabitants. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 754(2)(B). All other local public ways are regulated by the county commissioners. Municipal public road and highway right-of-way processes and requirements vary by jurisdiction. Developers of projects under municipal jurisdiction should consider contacting the appropriate municipal authority prior to construction. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, § 2502(1)(B).

3-ME-d.6 to 3-ME-d.7 – Does the Project Involve Private Facilities?

A developer of a private facility must submit a complete Maine Department of Transportation – Private Facility Exception License Application to MaineDOT. A private entity is a “private organization or individual, other than a utility, that owns, operates, controls and maintains facilities for its own use” 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 4. Private Facility Exception License Applications and information are available on the Location and Highway Opening Permits Webpage.

A Private Facility Exception License Application must include, at minimum, all information required for a Utility Location Permit pursuant to 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(2)(A)(1) discussed below in 3-ME-d.9. However, applications for private facilities generally require compliance with additional permit requirements to ensure that the constructed lines are properly located, maintained or de-energized as necessary. The Application for a Private Facility Exception License must also include a “no objection” letter written by abutting property owners. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, § 2503(1). If a project requires construction of a private facility only, the applicant/developer

3-ME-d.8 – Publish Public Notice

The developer must publish notice of the Application for Private Facility Exception License. The developer must provide notice describing the proposed facility “once in a newspaper circulated in the municipality or municipalities encompassing the limits of the proposed location.” The developer must also send a copy of the Application for Private Facility Exception License “to the municipal clerk of each municipality in which the facilities are located.” Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, § 2503(2).

3-ME-d.9 to 3-ME-d.10 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

MaineDOT reviews the application materials Application for Private Facility Exception License for administrative and technical completeness. If the Application for Private Facility Exception is complete, the developer may proceed to 3-ME-d.19.

3-ME-d.11 – State Highway Utility Location Permit Application

A utility must submit a complete State Highway Utility Location Permit Application (Utility Location Permit Application) to MaineDOT for projects that encroach on a state or state-aid highway, not within a compact area of a compact urban municipality. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, § 2502(1)(A).

For the purposes of MaineDOT permitting rules and requirements, a “utility” includes those public utilities regulated by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, and other public or private persons or entities with facilities located within state public ways that distribute or supply electricity either to the general public or to regulated public utilities. 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 4. The utility (developer) may obtain application materials and instructions on MaineDOT’s Location and Highway Opening Permits Webpage. Project developers may indicate in their Application whether the proposed process is subject to a standard review process (Statutory Permit Application) or to a Permit-By-Rule streamlined review process.

A Utility Location Permit Application must include, at minimum:

  • Application forms containing applicant (developer) information; primary contact information; proposed work information; impact & fee information; and the developer’s signature;
  • Specific location plans;
  • General location map;
  • Supporting Data including statements regarding the possibility of joint ownership of the facility, addressing whether there are other facilities located in the area, confirming that a copy of the application has been submitted to the appropriate municipal clerk, and identifying a person to answer questions about the Application;
  • Special Materials involved in the construction; and
  • Traffic Control Plan for any work proposed within the limits of a freeway. 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(2)(A)(1).

3-ME-d.12 to 3-ME-d.13 – Does the Project Qualify for a Permit-By-Rule (PBR) Permit?

If a project only involves installation of standard wooden utility poles within highway corridors, the developer may utilize the Permit-By-Rule (PBR) process rather than the Statutory Application process. 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(2)(C)(2)(a). A Permit-By-Rule review process is not available for projects within Freeways, Controlled Access corridors or Scenic Byways. 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(2)(C)(1).

Controlled Access corridors are governed by a specific Right-of-Way where MaineDOT has acquired “all rights of access…from the abutting property owners.” 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 4. To utilize the PBR process, a developer must indicate on their State Highway Utility Location Permit Application that either the fourteen (14) day or thirty (30) day PBR review process is applicable and should be used. 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(2)(C)(5).

3-ME-d.14 to 3-ME-d.15– Is the Project a Significant Facility Installation?

Depending on the size and nature of the project, in addition to submitting either a statutory State Highway Utility Location Permit Application (Statutory Application) or a Permit-By-Rule Application for a State Utility Location Permit and completing coordination requirements, a developer may also need to submit evidence of coordination with impacted utility developers. Installations involving underground facilities of 500 feet or longer or involving installation of 25 or more utility poles “require evidence of coordination with at least one representative from every [developer] having existing or proposed installations within the general location.” 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(2)(D).

To meet this coordination evidence requirement, the developer must initiate consultation with impacted developers regarding the proposed project and submit additional information on the “Additional Process for Significant Utility Installations” page of the State Highway Utility Location Permit Application. This additional information must identify any utilities existing in the proposed area of installation as well as major concerns expressed by those utilities regarding the proposed project. 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(2)(D).

3-ME-d.16 – Publish Public Notice

The developer must publish notice of the Application for Utility Location Permit. The developer must provide notice describing the proposed facility “once in a newspaper circulated in the municipality or municipalities encompassing the limits of the proposed location.” The developer must also send a copy of the Application for Utility Location Permit “to the municipal clerk of each municipality in which the facilities are located.” Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, § 2503(2).

3-ME-d.17 to 3-ME-d.18 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

MaineDOT reviews the application materials Application for Utility Location Permit for administrative and technical completeness.

3-ME-d.19 to 3-ME-d.23 – Assess Application for Approval

After receiving a complete application (i.e., Application for Utility Location Permit or Application for Private Facility Exception License), MaineDOT will perform either a Permit-By-Rule or Statutory review of the application.

PBR Review Process

The PBR review process differs depending on the size of the project.

Ten or Fewer Utility Poles

If the developer does not receive a notification objecting to the PBR Application for a project with ten (10) or fewer utility poles within (14) fourteen days of filing a complete application, then MaineDOT automatically issues the developer a Utility Location Permit. 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(2)(C)(5).

More Than Ten Utility Poles

If the utility /developer does not receive notification objecting to the PBR Application for a project with more than ten (10) utility poles within (30) thirty days of filing a complete Application, then Maine DOT automatically issues a Utility Location Permit. 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(2)(C)(5).

Statutory Review Process

Under the statutory review process, the MaineDOT has up to sixty (60) days to assess the application materials for approval. 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(2)(A)(2). If MaineDOT approves the application, MaineDOT sends the developer a Completion Confirmation Form and an approved Utility Location Permit with any applicable additional conditions. Once project construction is complete, the project developer must return the Completion Confirmation form to the MaineDOT, stating that the work was completed in accordance with the permit. 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(2)(A)(3).

Private Facility Exception License Review Process

MaineDOT is not required to issue a Private Facility Exception License to allow construction of a private facility within a state highway. MaineDOT places greater restrictions on private entities. Decisions to grant a permit and allow continued operation of a private facility within a state highway right-of-way are at the sole discretion of the MaineDOT. 17-229-210 Me. Code R. § 5(6). MaineDOT retains the authority to prescribe additional requirements in its approval of the all permits to prevent obstruction of public travel. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, § 2503(5).

3-ME-d.24 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

Any interested person seeking to appeal a MaineDOT determination may appeal to Maine Superior Court within thirty (30) days of MaineDOT’s filing of its decision. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 2063-66. If the developer seeks to appeal a municipal decision then the developer may file “a notice of appeal with the clerk of the municipality and with the clerk of the board of commissioners.” The appeal must be made within two weeks of the municipal decision filing, and the appeal filing must contain a copy of the original permit petition and the municipal adjudication. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, § 2503(13)(C). The county commissioners must hold the appeal hearing within 30 days from the time the developer files an appeal. The county commissioners must also issue their decision on the appeal within 30 days of the conclusion of the hearing. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, § 2503(13)(C)(2).


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