The floor of Lake Champlain is quickly becoming a highway for transmission lines to bring renewable energy to metropolitan areas of the Northeast. A new project to bring wind power from New York to New England through the lake was announced this week.
The Vermont Green Line is the latest proposal to run an electric transmission line under Lake Champlain. Officials from Wakefield, Massachusetts-based Anbaric Transmission want to build a 60-mile, 400-megawatt underwater and underground transmission line from Beekmantown, New York, to New Haven, Vermont. The power, originating from wind farms in northern New York, would then be distributed to the New England power grid. Anbaric spokesman Mike Relyea notes that there are two areas of New York that are wind resource-rich: western and northern New York. “Lake Champlain provides us with a route that’s safe, reliable and really unobtrusive. We’re able to cross Lake Champlain safely and reliably by simply laying our cable on the bottom of the lake and by using that lake it kind-of camouflages that the line is there while allowing us to really tap the wind generation that’s going on in northern New York and bring it to the energy markets where they want the wind power, which is in New England.”
Relyea says the Vermont Green Line has been a concept for years and the company has been waiting for opportune market conditions to initiate the project. “What’s really driving this is that the New England states have put out an RFP calling for new renewable energy to be brought into the region. The project’s funded for the most part. We are right now analyzing and trying to narrow down our last right-of-way locations that we need. And then we’ll go through the permitting stages in both New York and in Vermont throughout 2016. Then in 2017 and 2018 we’ll be constructing lines as well as the converter stations. If things go smoothly we’re in operation towards the end of 2019.”
Company representatives have been meeting with local officials to lay the groundwork for the transmission line. They recently met with the Clinton County Board of Legislators. Chair Sam Dyer is pleased that lines not within the lake will be below ground. He is also optimistic that the project will be an economic boon for the area. “They have stated the other night at our meeting that their line is a taxable asset. So it’s just not the jobs that are going to be created while they’re doing the project. It’s the infrastructure that they leave afterwards that they’re declaring is taxable. That’s something that’s going to be in the revenue stream for years and years to come.”
There are other projects planned to bring renewable energy from the North Country and Canada into the Northeast using Lake Champlain as the conduit for transmission lines. The Champlain Hudson Power Express project from Transmission Developers Inc. will run 333 miles of cable under Lake Champlain and the Hudson River to bring up to 1,000 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to the New York City area. The project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2017.
The proposed New England Clean Power Link will bring 1,000 megawatts of Canadian hydropower through Lake Champlain to cities across New England. Developers are targeting completion in 2019.