National Grid commits $20 million to the NEK as part of new Power Link line

by Timothy McQuiston Vermont Business Magazine Granite State Power Link (GSPL) and the Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA) today announced a partnership and benefits package to support economic growth and opportunities to the Northeast Kingdom. The proposal to transmit power to Massachusetts faces fierce competition, however, from at least one other project in New Hampshire and another in Vermont. That other Vermont project is favored by Governor Phil Scott.

GSPL, a renewable energy transmission project co-developed by National Grid and Citizens Energy, will deliver 1,200 MW of clean, affordable Canadian wind power to New England. Staying adjacent to existing transmission corridors, GSPL will build approximately 59 miles of new HVDC (direct current, see map at very bottom) transmission line from a new converter station in northern Vermont to a new converter station in Monroe, New Hampshire. Nearly 53 miles of the line traverses through nine communities in the Northeast Kingdom, running adjacent to the existing Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) transmission line.

The benefits package will total $20 million over 40 years and be administered by the NVDA to support and promote economic and community development through two primary categories – NVDA’s revolving loan fund and local economic and community development grants available to project host communities. Funds will be available through the standard NVDA processes and procedures.

“NVDA is pleased to support and welcome the opportunities provided in the Northeast Kingdom as a result of the Granite State Power Link,” said Dave Snedeker, executive director of NVDA. “National Grid has proactively engaged with NVDA and the local communities to build a project that respects the values of Vermonters while offering an economic boost to a Vermont region in need. It’s a win-win for the state and people of Vermont!”

"I am in support of the GSPL because as a life time resident of the Northeast Kingdom I believe this project would bring much needed economic benefits to the region,” said State Senator Jane Kitchel, Caledonia District and NVDA Board Member. “I believe it is consistent with our regional plan and when looking at this partnership and that it could come into this region providing economic value and is respectful from the environmental context, it is a wonderful opportunity for my area of the state to really get behind and I hope that it is the path that is chosen.”

Left to right, State Senator Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia, Joe Rossignoli of National Grid, Northeastern Vermont Development Association President Grant Spates and Northeastern Vermont Development Association Executive Director Dave Snedeker. NVDA photo.

Since its announcement in March, GSPL has executed a fulsome outreach and education program, which included briefings to local selectboards, a series of information sessions in host communities, and meetings with landowners and other key stakeholders throughout the region and Vermont. GSPL is focused on facilitating a dialogue with those impacted to gain critical feedback that improves the overall project.

“Dave Snedeker is a tireless advocate for the Northeast Kingdom and the NVDA is a robust organization that serves the region well,” said Will Hazelip, Vice President of Business Development, National Grid. “Our focus with projects like GSPL is on building partnerships and it was a no brainer to come together with the NVDA and offer tangible and meaningful benefits that will drive economic progress now and into the future for host communities, the region and state.”

GSPL is under consideration in Massachusetts for a competitive, 20-year commercialization contract. The project is scheduled to begin construction in mid-2020 with an end of year 2022 in-service date.

The project faces fierce competition in Vermont and elsewhere and little opposition along the New Hampshire section, and less at least to this point than the Northern Pass.

The Northern Pass project is proposed to run along an existing DC route through Vermont and New Hampshire. While the GSPL features Canadian wind and solar, Northern Pass would use Hydro Quebec energy. Both claim they are the more environmentally friendly project.

The cost of GSPL is about $1.1 billion, while the Northern Pass is a $1.6 billion project. Either would more or less fulfill the Massachusetts RFP.

Massachusetts will release a final short list of projects on or around January 25, with whom the state will engage in final negotiations and settle on a final bidder(s) sometime this spring/early summer. It’s possible they will announce only one finalist in January, but indications are that there will be several projects that move into the final round of negotiations (Mass RPF timeline:

Despite one New York bidder dropping out (Vermont Green Line Devco had proposed to build the estimated $600 million, 60-mile, underground and underwater electric transmission cable to deliver 400 MW from New York wind farms, under Lake Champlain to Vermont and Massachusetts) there are still an number of projects competing for the contract, including TDI from Vermont. (Here is the complete list of projects that initially submitted proposals:

At a minimum, Eversource’s Northern Pass, National Grid’s Granite State Power Link and TDI New England's New England Clean Power Link project are all still in the running, as well as a number of large solar projects.

The Massachusetts RFP is seeking 1200 MW of new renewable sources. TDI’s transmission capacity is 1000 MW, Granite State Powerlink is 1200 MW and Northern Pass is 1090 MW. If TDI or Northern Pass are selected the remaining 100-200 MW could likely be made up from some of the smaller solar generations bids that are part of the RFP.

A separate bidder emanating from New Brunswick called the Atlantic Link would send 1,000 MW (wind and hydro) under the Bay of Maine all the way to Pymouth, MA. Developed by a subsidiary of Emera, Inc. There are also separate proposals running through the state of Maine.

The TDI proposal is favored by Vermont Governor Phil Scott, as well as the environmental nonprofit Conservation Law Foundation. TDI also has completed its major permitting.

The more than $200 million the state would derive from hosting the TDI power line could be earmarked for Lake Champlain cleanup, which is what Scott favors. TDI New England is a Blackstone Portfolio Company.

If the $1.2 billion TDI Clean Power Link project is selected by Massachusetts, it would bring hydroelectric power from Northern Quebec through Vermont via an entirely-underground 154-mile transmission line, with nearly 100 miles of that under Lake Champlain. The line would run to a substation in Ludlow.

According to Vermont ANR Secretary Julie Moore, the project would provide $6 million annually to fund water quality improvement projects in Vermont for the next 40 years.

Meanwhile, the Granite State Power Link (GSPL) will stay within or adjacent to existing transmission corridors. GSPL will build approximately 59 miles of new HVDC (direct current) transmission line from a new converter station in northern Vermont to a new converter station in Monroe, New Hampshire. From Monroe, the interconnection point, approximately 109 miles of existing AC (alternating current) transmission line will be upgraded to a new switching station in Londonderry, New Hampshire. ClickHEREfor more about GSPL.

The Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA) is a combined regional planning and economic development corporation serving the 3 counties, 50+ municipalities, and hundreds of businesses of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. NVDA assists our communities with planning and technical assistance services of all types – land use, transportation, emergency management, energy, and natural resources. We also own buildings, maintain business parks, maintain loan funds, and provide business referral services to existing and new businesses in our region.

National Grid (LSE: NG; NYSE: NGG) is an electricity and natural gas delivery company that connects nearly 7 million customers to energy sources through its networks in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It is the largest distributor of natural gas in the Northeast. National Grid also operates the systems that deliver gas and electricity across Great Britain.


Governor Scott supports underwater Power Link from Canada
Julie Moore: Clean power for clean water
TDI, Conservation Law Foundation reach agreement over proposed $1.2 billion power line

Source: NVDA 12.19.2017