Vermont gets new hope for 1,000 MW power line

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Vermont gets new hope for 1,000 MW power line

Fri, 02/09/2018 - 3:26pm -- tim

by Timothy McQuiston Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott is making a renewed effort to get a Vermont project selected for the massive and lucrative renewable energy contract being awarded by the state of Massachusetts. At the end of January, Massachusetts selected an Eversource project for the 1,200 megawatt power line from Quebec, through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It eventually would connect into the Massachusetts electric grid. Last year Scott had made a similar pitch in hopes that Massachusetts would select the TDI New England project. It would bring over $200 million in benefits to the state. Scott has renewed hope after the Eversource project, already under siege from environmental groups in New Hampshire, was swiftly and overwhelmingly rejected by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee on February 1.

In a letter dated yesterday, February 8 and co-signed by members of his cabinet (SEE FULL LETTER BELOW), Scott reiterated the State of Vermont's support for the TDI New England Clean Power Link and emphasized what has always been its strength: "As part of your process going forward, we want to ensure the Commonwealth is aware the NECPL Project has received all its key regulatory approvals, enjoys strong community and statewide support and can be promptly constructed without the significant risk presented by other unpermitted and publicly-opposed projects."

Massachusetts leaders, of course, knew all that when they selected Eversource anyway. The NHSEC permit also was never a sure thing and environmental groups, including the Conservation Law Foundation which had given the Vermont project its blessing, vowed to fight on regardless of the NHSEC's decision.

Reports indicate that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu and Eversource were all stunned by the news. Eversource has vowed to take the case all the way to the state supreme court if necessary. 

It's also unclear what Massachusetts does now. It's deadline for the project was 2020, which seemed unlikely in any case given what Eversource faced both from opponents and with construction for the $1.6 billion project.

Don Jessome, CEO of TDI-New England (TDI-NE), issued his own statement shortly after the NHSEC ruled against Eversource.

"TDI-NE offers a fully permitted, fully supported, fully underground and viable, shovel-ready solution to help the State of Massachusetts meet its clean energy goals with low-cost electricity. We stand ready to assist the Commonwealth as it achieves these targets."

TDI-NE offered either 100 percent hydro or a hydro-wind mix of renewable energy.

The New England Clean Power Link is a proposed high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line from the Canadian border at Alburgh, Vermont, to Ludlow along underwater and underground routes. 

The transmission line will be comprised of two approximately 5” diameter cables — one positively charged and the other negatively charged. The cables will be solid-state dielectric and contain no fluids or gases. The nominal operating voltage of the line will be approximately 300 to 320 kV, and the system will be capable of delivering 1,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

The proposed underwater portion of the transmission line, approximately 98 miles in length, will be buried to a target depth of 3-4 feet in the bed of Lake Champlain except at water depths of greater than 150 feet where the cables will be placed on the bottom and self-burial of the cables in sediment will occur. In areas where there are obstacles to burial (e.g. existing infrastructure, bedrock), protective coverings will be installed.

The overland portion of the transmission line, approximately 56 miles in length, will be buried approximately four feet underground within existing public (state and town) road or railroad rights-of-way (ROWs). Very short sections of the route at the Lake Champlain entry and exit points, as well as at the converter site in Ludlow, will be located on private land that is controlled by TDI-NE.

In Ludlow, the HVDC line will terminate at a converter station that will change the electrical power from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). An underground AC transmission line will then run approximately 0.3 miles along town roads to the existing VELCO 345 kV Coolidge Substation in Cavendish, where the electricity will be carried on the New England electric grid.

Project Benefits

Economic

  • During the forty year life of the Project, TDI-NE is expected to make the following lease and tax payments to the State of Vermont:
    • VT Property Taxes: $274 Million
    • VT Corporate Income Taxes: $414 Million
    • VT Sales Tax (construction period only): $31 Million
    • VTrans Lease Payments for use of Right-of-Way: $212 Million
  • Testimony provided by Kavet Rockler & Associates, LLC and TDI-NE indicates during the three year construction period the following economic benefits are expected:
    • The creation of almost 500 annual direct and indirect jobs in Vermont and over 200 additional jobs in New England
    • Direct NECPL Employment Expenditures: $83 Million in Vermont
    • Direct NECPL Non-Employment Expenditures: $101 Million in Vermont
  • Testimony provided by Levitan & Associates, Inc., Kavet Rockler and TDI-NE indicate the following economic benefits are expected during the operating phase of NECPL:
    • The creation of over 200 annual direct and indirect jobs in Vermont and over 1,900 additional annual jobs in New England.
    • Total energy savings for Vermont ratepayers: $245 Million (first ten years of operations)
    • Total energy savings for New England ratepayers: $1.9 Billion (first ten years of operations)
    • Direct NECPL Employment Expenditures: $158 Million in Vermont (forty years)
    • Direct NECPL Non-Employment Expenditures: $152 Million in Vermont (forty years)
  • Vermont electric ratepayers will receive an additional $136 million reduction in transmission costs, funded through payments to Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) at an initial rate of $2.5 million a year escalating at 1.5% for the 40-year life of the project.

Environmental

  • The Project will contribute $202 million to the State Clean Water Fund, paid at a rate of $5 million annually over forty years after two initial $1 million payments.
  • The Project will create a $61 million Fund to support habitat restoration and recreational improvements in Lake Champlain, paid at a rate of $1.5 million per year over forty years after an initial $1 million payment.
  • The Project will contribute $109 million to Vermont's Clean Energy Development Fund, paid at a rate of $5 million annually during the first 20 years of the life of the project, with the remainder paid out during the subsequent 20 years. Funds can be used to support in-state renewable development.
  • The Project is proposed to be buried along existing road and railroad rights-of-way that are already maintained for transportation and/or utility purposes.
  • The Project supports the New England governors' efforts to import low-cost, clean, reliable power and provides an alternative to Natural Gas generation.
  • The Project will offset up to 3.3 million tons of CO2 annually.
  • The Project will be built to the highest environmental standards to protect Lake Champlain, Vermont's natural resources, and local communities. The transmission cable is solid state and contains no liquids or gases.

Reliability

  • The Project will enhance the region's fuel diversity by bringing hydroelectric power to the ISO-NE System.
  • The Project will strengthen and diversify the Vermont and New England electric grid
  • The buried HVdc cables are protected from natural disasters
  • “Black Start” capability can quickly restart the electric grid in case of a blackout

Source: State of Vermont 2.9.2018. TDI-NE