Library filed under Transmission from Massachusetts
The six New England governors, working with the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCO) and regional grid operators, have launched a process under which Northern Pass partners may be able to acquire substantial ratepayer funding and eminent domain powers for the controversial plan to bring hydroelectricity from Quebec into New England.
Developers are pitching plans, and are now offering states handsome “benefits packages” in seeking their support. In addition, states could earn millions from new property or infrastructure taxes, the leasing of existing right-of-ways and financial returns on public investment in the lines. But these assurances aren’t enough, according to Kerrick Johnson, vice president of Vermont Electric Power Co., or VELCO.
The company seeking to build a wind farm in Nantucket Sound announced Thursday that it has contracted with Prysmian Cables and Systems USA to supply the transmission cables for the offshore project.
Federal regulators are being asked to resolve a regional rift over who should pay for new power lines needed to carry renewable electricity to southern New England. Vermont has joined New Hampshire and Rhode Island to oppose the cost-sharing formula being promoted by Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine. ...the more populated states are trying to offload much of the cost of the new power projects on other states in New England.
"We think that it is likely there will be significant additional transmission investment needed to maintain reliability and improve access to these clean, intermittent power sources," Lee Olivier, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in an earnings call Friday. "But it is too early to estimate how much that additional investment will be and exactly when it will occur."
A federal order issued last fall is intended to make it easier to construct transmission lines, costly and controversial projects that are notoriously tough to build.
The administration of Gov. Deval Patrick has been pushing for a tougher standard of review for the proposed merger, saying the utilities should have to prove the merger would help the state's clean energy goals. NStar has been criticized by administration officials for its lack of interest in the Cape Wind project and its decision to focus instead on bringing Canadian hydropower to New England.
Hydro Quebec, NStar and Northeast Utilities are working on the Northern Pass project with the Patrick administration's support. Project organizers say the new line could provide another 1,200 megawatts of hydro electricity, enough to power nearly a million houses. The project is still in early engineering and study phases, with the goal of wrapping up in 2015, the Northern Pass website says.
Bowles said he's still leery of any FERC plan, saying it's a "slippery slope" toward a more centralized national electric system that could harm Bay State ratepayers and the state's efforts to promote renewable fuels. "We're concerned," said Bowles, adding there has "certainly been Soviet-type thinking" surrounding the entire concept.
LeBlanc said the premiers have done well in selling their energy message in New England. "But it's not as simple as saying, 'We're here. Come buy from us.' ...New England states want to have energy independence and grow their energy supply in-house.
Since March, travelers have been contending with utility crews as they install new utility poles and electricity distribution lines through Lanesborough, even as a lawsuit holds up final connection to the $46 million Berkshire Wind project on Brodie Mountain. The lawsuit alleges that the special permit issued for road access to the construction site expired before the work began.
The developer of a proposed underwater transmission line from Searsport to Boston is pressing the need for the New England Region to tap the full wind power potential of Northern Maine. The so-called Greenline project would include the installation of a 140 mile undersea cable carrying electricity from Maine down to the high demand markets to the south.
On Tuesday, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia announced they would explore building new transmission lines between the two provinces, which would more than double the amount of electricity that can be shared between them. A similar expansion of capacity between centrally located New Brunswick and the northeastern United States could give the Maritimes access to a lucrative energy market.
While a lawsuit is holding up the completion of the $46 million wind power project on Brodie Mountain, the Western Massachusetts Electric Co. is midway through a project to install new utility poles from Brodie Mountain through Lanesborough to get the wind power to the public utility grid.
Power companies in New England are beginning work on a nearly half-billion-dollar plan to upgrade the region’s electric grid to make way for appliances that can shut down to reduce electric bills, improve energy conservation, and connect to wind and solar energy. The first step is replacing decades-old meters with so-called smart meters that detail the use of computers, appliances, TVs, lights, and other household equipment.
The region's electrical grid operator has determined that a $10 billion investment in transmission facilities would be needed to move energy from new wind farms to customers across New England. ISO New England's 60-page report - which put the price tag on a scenario for an additional 8,500 megawatts of wind power - is energizing critics of Cape Wind who contend the offshore project will shock ratepayers with skyrocketing bills.