- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - A company that wants to bring Canadian power to New England through a new line under Lake Champlain formally asked the Vermont Public Service Board on Monday for approval.

TDI New England filed documents at the board promising several benefits to Vermont in exchange for the board’s approval for a $1.2 billion project that would run the length of the lake, and then cut east from Benson at the lake’s southern end to link to the New England grid at Ludlow, officials told the Associated Press.

Among the company’s promises: $136 million in power cost reductions, made through payments to Vermont’s high-voltage power system operator over the 40-year life of the project; more than $120 million for environmental improvements on the lake; and $1 million a year for 40 years to the state’s Clean Energy Development Fund.

The filing brought immediate questions from a top Vermont energy regulator about whether the promised benefits were generous enough, as well as an environmental group’s vow that it would apply tough scrutiny to the 1,000-megawatt line’s impacts on the lake bottom, and whether any of the power to move over the line would come from power plants burning fossil fuels.

Chris Recchia, commissioner of the Department of Public Service, said one thing the proposal had going for it was that it would rely on underwater and underground power lines, rather than aerial lines mounted on towers.

“The fact that it is entirely underground and underwater makes it possible to have this discussion about hosting a new transmission line,” Recchia said.

But he said his department needs to “kick the tires.” Recchia said the benefits are “impressive when you look at it over 40 years, the life of the project.” And in choosing Lake Champlain protection and clean energy, “they’ve identified the right categories of interests that need to be addressed.”

But he added, “We’ll have to take a closer look at the magnitude to see if the benefits match the value of the project.”

Sandra Levine of the Conservation Law Foundation said that group was bothered by the fact that TDI has not identified the source of the electricity, saying that would be crucial for the Public Service Board to approve the deal. She added that CLF wants a close study of the potential impacts of digging a trench for the power line on the lake bottom and on the line’s potential to heat the water.

Donald Jessome, TDI’s chief executive, said in an interview that the company had not yet identified the source of power, but added that several Canadian power marketers have expressed interest in sending electricity into the New England market. The region already gets significant power supplies from Canada. TDI applied for federal permits earlier this year.

Jessome said he does not expect the line will carry power from power plants fired by fossil fuels. “It’s very clear that it’s hydro and wind generation that’s our primary focus,” he said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide