by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine At his press conference Tuesday, Governor Phil Scott updated a renewed effort to bring an underwater power line under Lake Champlain from Quebec to hook into the New England electric grid. The proposal was first raised more than eight years ago in 2014. He said that while meeting with New England governors last week, as part of the National Governors Association annual meeting in Washington, there was interest in putting the proposal back on the table.
“This may be a bit of a blast of the past from the past for some of you, but we had a lengthy discussion about TDI, the fully permit permitted 1,000 megawatt transmission line that would come through Vermont and then connect Southern New England to clean energy from Quebec. As you might remember, we heavily promoted this in my first term and would have used the revenue for Lake Champlain cleanup. But unfortunately Massachusetts decided to go in a different direction, so the line was never built.
“But now with significant problems with other routes considered in New Hampshire and Maine, the New England Governors are very interested in the opportunity TDI provides to us and it now has legs again, which would be good news for Vermont and the entire region.”
Massachusetts, primarily, had a mandate to increase its renewable energy portfolio by 1.2 gigawatts. Massachusetts however subsequently chose a route through New Hampshire. But New Hampshire regulators rejected the overland route. Maine was another bidder, but has run into similar permitting and environmental problems, thus leaving, once again, a possible Vermont option.
The cost of the New England Clean Power Link was estimated at $1.2 billion in December 2014. The 1 gigawatt line would run from the Quebec border under Lake Champlain to Benson, Vermont, where it would follow existing rights of way to a substation in Ludlow. Existing transmission would then link to the power grid under contracts with utilities in southern New England.
Back in 2017, the NECPL was expected to go online in 2019, as long as it got the permits and power contracts needed to proceed. It ultimately got the permits but not the contracts.
The power would be generated from hydro facilities in Quebec.
Scott noted that the power line is fully permitted. During the projected 40-year life of the transmission line, Vermont ratepayers would get about $2.5 million a year and another $121.5 million in funding was to go to Lake Champlain phosphorus cleanup. Money for that cleanup has since been found from other sources, leaving that money possibly available for other projects.
The southern New England states ultimately would have to give the project the green light.
They would also have to sit down with TDI again to see if they were still interested. They would also try and get a federal grant to help with financing.
“We and the other Governors have forwarded a letter to the federal government in terms of a grant for this to specifically help defer some of the costs as they move forward. So it really is about seeing if we're going to receive that grant. I think it's important for the New England governors to go back to their folks and see if we can get to the table with TDI and their counterparts in Southern New England again.”
About the New England Clean Power Link
The New England Clean Power Link is a proposed 154-mile underwater and underground transmission line that would deliver 1,000 MW of hydroelectricity to the Vermont and New England market. The line was developed with private-sector financing by TDI New England and would originate at the US-Canadian border and travel approximately 97.3 miles underwater down Lake Champlain to Benson, Vermont, and then be buried along town and state road and railroad rights-of-way or on land owned by TDI New England for approximately 56.7 miles to a new converter station that would be built in Ludlow, Vermont. The project was expected to be in service in 2019, at a cost of approximately $1.2 billion.
The project has received all federal and state permits. The developers have a strong track record of working in partnership with local elected officials, community groups, and other stakeholders to develop projects that meet unique energy needs of growing economies, while minimizing local impacts. More information on the company and the project are available at www.necplink.com.
TDI New England is a Blackstone Portfolio Company. New York–based Blackstone is a global leader in alternative asset management with about $300 billion under management. The TDI New England team was made up of the same leadership team currently developing the Champlain Hudson Power Express in New York State.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced on November 30, 2022, the start of construction of the 339-mile, 1.25 GW transmission line. It will deliver energy from Hydro-Québec directly to New York City. The transmission line is expected to be fully operational in the spring of 2026.