Maine Electric Power Co. has started courting landowners between Chester and Pittsfield as the utility pursues a new regional transmission line.

MEPCO, owned by Central Maine Power Co. and Emera Maine, has started holding public meetings and acquiring land for the line it hopes to have up and running by 2020.

The company is still charting the exact path of its 69-mile power line that would run from its Keene Road substation in Chester to a new substation in Pittsfield. It would connect with or share rights of way with various existing lines.

The company expects the line to pass through Chester, Mattamiscontis Township, Howland, Orneville Township, Lagrange, Atkinson, Charleston, Exeter, Corinna, Corinth, Palmyra, St. Albans and Pittsfield.

Allison Gray Doughty, a spokeswoman for Emera Maine, said the project “will relieve congestion, reduce line losses, boost reliability and accommodate new generation from renewable resources.”

The company said on its website that it first pays for options to buy those easements. Later, once it picks the final transmission route, it either buys the easement or property owners get to keep the option payment.

So far, it has acquired rights of way for about 60 percent of the route, and Gray Doughty said the company expects the process of acquiring land rights will last through 2018. She expects the company will begin to seek state regulators’ approval for the project sometime next year.

In the meantime, MEPCO has started holding public meetings, including one Saturday in Corinna, to discuss the project and meet with property owners who might be willing to sell easements on their property.

“Working with our neighbors is important to us, and we’re looking forward to talking with members of the community and anyone who would like more information,” said Allison Gray Doughty, a spokeswoman for Emera Maine.

Emera Maine holds a minority stake in MEPCO. Central Maine Power Co. owns about 78 percent of the utility, according to its most recent quarterly filing with federal regulators.

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.