US DOE supports 1.2 gigawatt power line from Quebec through Vermont and NH

by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced Monday that it is entering into capacity contract negotiations through the Transmission Facilitation Program with a commitment of up to $1.3 billion in three transmission projects across six states aimed at adding 3.5 GW of additional grid capacity and creating more than 13,000 direct and indirect jobs. Vermont and New Hampshire are two of those states selected through a project called the Twin States Clean Energy Link

The 1.2 gigawatt Link will cross into Vermont from Quebec in the Northeast Kingdom (Canaan) and run underground on the Vermont side of the Connecticut River along state roads before crossing into New Hampshire in Lunenburg. It will then be picked up by existing overhead lines before reaching a new substation in Londonderry, NH. Construction would begin in 2026.

Several previous proposals for large-scale Quebec-New England transmissions lines have been proposed in recent years. Financing and regulatory issues have held them up in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. These have included a proposal similar to this one (Granite State Power Link) and another proposed by TDI that would have run under Lake Champlain before crossing Vermont. The GSPL ultimately was shelved. 

The 211-mile, $2 billion Twin State Clean Energy Link was first proposed last May. At 1.2 GW, the line would be of similar capacity to the existing Seabrook, NH, nuclear plant and about twice the output of the now-closed Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. The energy would primarily come from hydro-electric sources but could also include wind and solar.

Approximately 50 miles of new, underground lines would be laid primarily along Vermont Routes 141, 114, 102 and US Route 2 in Vermont.

Underground crossing into New Hampshire, below the Connecticut River, utilizing horizontal direction drilling (HDD) technology. Approximately 25 miles of new, underground lines along New Hampshire Route 135 in Dalton and Littleton, leading to the Comerford substation in Monroe, NH.

Through capacity contracts, DOE will commit to purchasing a percentage of the total proposed capacity of the eligible transmission line. By offering capacity contracts, DOE increases the confidence of additional investors, encourages additional customers to purchase transmission line capacity, and reduces the overall risk for project developers.

The updated independent market assessment shows that Twin States will create annual average energy market savings of $68 million in New Hampshire, $51 million in Vermont, $87 million in Maine, $296 million in Massachusetts, $126 million in Connecticut and $61 million in Rhode Island over its first 12 years in service. 

National Grid and nonprofit Citizens Energy Corporation are proposing the project. They would need additional financing and regulatory approval. The backing of the DOE is expected to confidence to outside investors.

Citizens has pledged to dedicate $100 million towards community-identified projects in the project’s route cities and towns. If the project were to move ahead, to support its construction, Twin States is proud to partner with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). National Grid is also partnering with the Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA) on a significant long-term commitment to supporting their community-driven work in economic growth and advancement for the Northeast Kingdom and beyond.

Governor Phil Scott (VT) issued the following statement in reaction to the Department of Energy’s announcement:

“This project represents a great opportunity for Vermont and the Northeast Kingdom. We look forward to working with our partners as it moves forward and evaluating the benefits to Vermont.”

At his press conference on Wednesday, the governor thought the timeline was perhaps "optimistic" given the pushback that energy projects and powerlines have received, notably proposed powerline projects from Quebec through New Hampshire and Maine, like the GSPL proposed by National Grid through New Hampshire.

Scott added that he has not heard back regarding the TDI proposal for a powerline under Lake Champlain. He wrote a letter to the federal government and discussed this line with other New England governors earlier this year.

The TDI proposal is for 1 gigawatt and is fully permitted. A 1.25 GW line developed by TDI serving New York State (the 339-mile Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line) began construction in November 2022.

Senator Peter Welch (D-Vermont):

“Transmission is critically important as we harness the potential of the clean energy revolution. The U.S. will need to make major investments in our transmission systems to strengthen our energy grid and expand our capacity to deliver low-cost, clean energy if we’re going to make this transition a reality. This investment shows the Department of Energy’s commitment to a climate-friendly future. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law program that DOE is putting into motion will improve access to renewable energy and benefit infrastructure host communities, including many of those in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Expanding and building transmission lines in an environmentally responsible, safe, and clean way will lower costs, create jobs, and help improve energy reliability for families across New England.” 

U.S. Congresswoman Becca Balint (D-VT):

“I'm grateful the Department of Energy is making meaningful investments in New England's clean energy future. This historic federal effort will be so impactful as we tackle the effects of climate change and realize our clean energy goals. I look forward to the cost savings and green jobs this will bring to New England.”

Dave Snedeker, Executive Director of Northeastern Vermont Development Association:

“NVDA is thrilled about the opportunities the Twin States Clean Energy Link provides to the Vermont communities along the project route, the Northeast Kingdom (NEK) and the entire state of Vermont. The project will provide significant long-term economic benefits to the NEK, a region with longstanding economic challenges, significantly reduce property taxes for route community residents, reduce electricity rates for all Vermonters and help combat the climate crisis. What’s more, the project has been designed with Vermont values in mind and will have virtually no visual and very little environmental impact. NVDA is proud to partner with National Grid on this incredible project.”

The selected projects are:  

  • Twin States Clean Energy Link (New Hampshire, Vermont). Twin States is a proposed 1,200 MW high-voltage direct current (HVDC) bidirectional line that will expand the capacity of the New England electric grid and improve its resiliency, reliability, and efficiency by providing access to clean firm energy supplies in Quebec, Canada. The bidirectional design of the Twin States line will also allow the New England grid to export power to Canada when New England is producing more energy than it needs to meet its own demand, which is expected to occur as the offshore wind industry in New England expands. Construction is expected to start in Q3 or Q4 of calendar year 2026. Needs Study predicts the Northeast region will need 1.5GW of new transfer capacity with its neighbors; Twin States will contribute 79% to this interregional need. Learn more.
  • Cross-Tie 500kV Transmission Line Project (Nevada, Utah). Cross-Tie is a proposed 214-mile 1500 MW transmission line connecting existing transmission systems in Utah and Nevada to increase transmission capacity, improve grid reliability and resilience, relieve congestion on other key transmission lines, and expand access to low-cost renewable energy across the region. The bidirectional nature of Cross-Tie will increase transfer capabilities in the West, unlocking increased access to renewable energy resources in the region. Construction is expected to start in Q1 of calendar year 2025. The National Transmission Needs Study (Needs Study) estimates that by 2030 the Mountain region will need nearly 2,300 GW-mi of new transmission to unlock the power sector emissions savings enabled by Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Cross-Tie will contribute 14% to this regional need. Learn more.
  • Southline Transmission Project (Arizona, New Mexico). Southline is a proposed 175-mile, 748 MW transmission line from Hidalgo County, NM to Pima County, AZ that will help unlock renewable energy development in southern New Mexico and deliver clean energy to growing markets in Arizona that currently rely on fossil fuel generation. The project, which is the first phase of a longer line, will make smart use of existing transmission rights of way along parts of its route, upgrading aging transmission facilities that are the source of congestion and constraints in the region. Construction is expected to start in Q1 of calendar year 2025. The Needs Study estimates that by 2030 the Southwest will need 935 GW-mi of new transmission to unlock the power sector emissions savings enabled by IRA. The Southline project will contribute 14% to this regional need. Learn more.

"This is an important step forward for Twin States as we work to make the project a reality for the region," said Stephen Woerner, New England President, National Grid. "DOE has recognized the significant economic and environmental benefits of this project to New England communities, residents and businesses and we're grateful for this recognition from our federal partners. This project would be a win for the New England region, and we thank our stakeholders and the many route communities for their strong support. We look forward to working with DOE on the next steps in the TFP process and continuing our deep engagement with the communities and our regional partners to bring this project to fruition."

"To realize the full benefit of the nation's goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035, we need to more than double our grid capacity and President Biden's Investing in America agenda puts us in position to do just that," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. "This historic effort to strengthen the nation's transmission will drive down costs for American families and deliver thousands of good paying jobs for American workers—helping communities keep the lights on in the face of climate change-induced extreme weather events."

Through DOE's Transmission Facilitation Program, a $2.5 billion revolving fund to help overcome the financial hurdles associated with upgrading and building new, large-scale transmission lines, DOE is entering into capacity contract negotiations with three interregional transmission line projects that will strengthen grid resilience and reliability and enable the addition of more clean energy resources to the grid. 

Through capacity contracts, DOE will commit to purchasing a percentage of the total proposed capacity of the eligible transmission line. By offering capacity contracts, DOE increases the confidence of additional investors, encourages additional customers to purchase transmission line capacity, and reduces the overall risk for project developers. Therefore, Twin States remains subject to finalizing contractual arrangements and investment plans. National Grid will continue to engage with DOE in the coming months on various aspects of the project to identify the best path forward through the Transmission Facilitation Program and secure maximum benefits to our communities and the region.

Twin States will deliver clean energy from Canada, including hydropower, to New England to support the region's carbon reduction goals and increase the supply of affordable clean energy. As a bi-directional line, Twin States will enable clean energy producers in New England, such as offshore wind, to export excess capacity to Quebec during times of lower domestic demand, providing a critical boost to the region's clean energy economy.

The project is projected to lower costs for customers across New England, creating more than $8.3 billion in wholesale energy market cost savings over the first twelve years of operation alone, according to an independent market assessment based on current project estimates. The proposal is unique in that it utilizes roadway burial and existing transmission corridors in Vermont and New Hampshire to deliver 1,200 MW of clean energy directly to where it's needed most, while unlocking new renewable development potential in the region.

Twin States is projected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new property tax revenues to host state cities and towns through which the line passes. It is also projected to contribute millions more in lease payments to Vermont and New Hampshire for underground burial of the lines along state roadways.

In addition, as part of the consideration for the project, National Grid and Citizens Energy Corporation are assembling an innovative $260 million community benefits program, of which at least 40% will be dedicated to disadvantaged communities throughout New England. The project is expected to create 1,200 well-paying jobs during construction. The reduction of electricity bills for customers and businesses across New England is expected to create significant economic growth, generating an estimated average of 3,700 jobs per year across the region.

"We are excited to partner with National Grid on the Twin States Clean Energy Link to help build a greener and more resilient grid," said Citizens Energy President Joseph P. Kennedy III. "By linking renewable energy generation to population centers while providing benefits to host communities, we are innovating the model for building much-needed transmission projects. We appreciate the commitment of President Biden to building out the clean energy grid of the 21st century through supporting projects like Twin States."

National Grid is working closely with communities and local economic development partners to understand how the project's benefits program can best support local needs. As part of this process, National Grid has held dozens of public presentations, open houses in route communities in both states and other listening sessions to understand how Twin States can maximize its benefits for the region, beyond creating jobs, lowering energy costs, and combatting climate change through reducing our dependence on natural gas to generate electricity. Visit the Twin States website to learn more: Twin States Clean Energy Link | For a Greener New England Grid.