A proposed project to bring 400 megawatts of renewable energy to New England was explained to residents of the region where the power would be obtained last night. The Vermont Green Line is the latest energy project that plans to run an electric transmission cable along the floor of Lake Champlain to bring renewable energy from northern New York and Canada to New England markets.
The high-voltage direct current line would begin at a converter station in Beekmantown near an existing wind farm. Six miles of underground cable would be run across the town to Lake Champlain. The power cables would then be placed on the bottom of the lake for 40 miles. The cables would come out of the lake in Vermont and again be placed underground for 13 miles to reach a converter station in New Haven where the power would be distributed to the New England power grid.
Anbaric and National Grid are partnering on the $600 million project. During Wednesday’s informational meeting, National Grid Director of U.S. Business Development Joe Rossignoli described the project and then opened the floor to questions and comments:
“So we’ll just go thru sort of the who we are and what the project is and why we’re doing it. Yes sir?”
“Is it possible that our electric bills might go up? Not likely.”
“Why are going all underneath roads when there already existing above ground transmission lines. Why don’t they bury them under the ground where the existing transmission lines are?”
Beekmantown resident Barbara Peacock summed up many concerns. “These things are very unsettling in small towns. And we live in a really pristine part of New York State. I really want you to abide by what people emotionally are feeling when these projects are set forth.”
Rodney and Darlene Grigware live adjacent to the Beekmantown converter station. They aren’t necessarily opposed to the project but want their concerns addressed. “It’s right in our backyard. We bought the property years ago for the quietness, the privacy, just for the seclusion. And part of that seclusion is being taken away. And the health risks. I don’t want any health risks. That was another big issue because of being so close. If they can literally prove to us that there’s not going to be any health risk what so ever, because out of the whole community we are the only ones that are that close to the substation that’s going in .”
National Grid’s Rossignoli says there is a great opportunity to bring wind and hydropower from northern New York to the New England states, which have mandated that their utilities obtain more renewable energy. “This project will help the southern New England utilities meet its renewable portfolio standard requirements and this transmission line like many of the other transmission lines that are being developed and proposed really link customers to remote sources of renewable power such as distant hydro and distant wind.”
Anbaric, an independent developer of transmission lines, is partnering with National Grid to develop the Vermont Green Line. Project Manager Bryan Sanderson says northern New York is rich in supply while New England has high demand for power. Lake Champlain, he says, offers a prime route for the power. “We try to find the least impactful way to build our projects. And one of the ways that we do that is to use existing rights of way and under water. Two of our operating projects connect northern New Jersey into Long Island and into Manhattan via cables that go underneath the Atlantic and underneath the Hudson. It’s a minimally intrusive, environmentally friendly way to build a project.”
The Vermont Green Line is in its initial stages and Rossignoli is confident they will win the New England Clean Energy RFP bid. “Really the short term challenge is sort of to win that and we think we can meet that challenge. (What happens if you don’t get the RFP?) We could develop the project without the RPF, though the RFP is really key to the sale of the project’s capacity. We feel we’re going to win it.”
Selection of the winning bidder by the New England Clean Energy RFP will occur by midyear. If successful, the Vermont Green Line could then obtain permits and begin construction by the end of 2016. Power would be available in 2019 and 2020.