BURLINGTON — The Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) this week issued a Certificate of Public good to the New England Clean Power Link, a high power line that would transmit 1,000 megawatts of wind and hydro power from the Canadian border to a transfer station at Ludlow.
Ninety-eight miles would be buried under Lake Champlain, including a stretch running near Ferrisburgh and Panton and then hugging the shorelines of Addison, Bridport, Shoreham and Orwell. The Clean Power Link would veer onto land south of Addison County, in Benson.
The project, proposed by TDI New England, is anticipated to begin in 2016, with the aim of placing the line in service by 2019.
This is not the Vermont Green Line, a project from a different developer that would run a renewable energy power line under Lake Champlain from New York state to New Haven.
In authorizing TDI New England’s Clean Power Link, the Public Service Board found that the transmission line will provide significant environmental, electrical and economic benefits for Vermont and the region, including, diversifying the state and regional fuel supply, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating hundreds of in-state construction jobs, producing over a billion dollars in new state and local revenues and public good benefits, and potentially lowering electricity costs. The PSB further found that the installation of the line underground in existing public rights-of-way and underwater in Lake Champlain will help reduce the overall visual impacts from the project.
The PSB said in a press release that TDI New England has also committed to supporting Lake Champlain clean-up efforts, state renewable energy programs, and Vermont electric ratepayer relief through the creation of several public-good benefit funds.
Vermont’s Certificate of Public Good is the comprehensive state siting and environmental regulatory approval that is needed to construct and to operate the project in the state, and details the conditions under which the project can be built and operated.
“We are extremely pleased that the PSB has issued this certificate and that the state of Vermont has approved the New England Clean Power Link,” TDI New England Chief Executive Officer Donald Jessome said. “This approval is the result of significant regulatory review, public input and consultation with stakeholders. We are pleased that the final result is a project that is supported and approved in Vermont.”
Sandra Levine, senior attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation, lauded TDI-New England for addressing a variety of impacts in a responsible manner.
“They have worked well with stakeholders and have demonstrated that large energy projects can meet high environmental standards,” Levine said in a TDI press release.
Gov. Peter Shumlin also welcomed this milestone.
“This is good news for Vermont and the region, which needs more clean, renewable energy and a way to get it to market,” he said in a press release.
In addition to this permit, TDI New England recently announced that seven electricity suppliers from Canada and the United States have expressed interest in transmitting up to 3,200 MW of power over the 1,000 MW Clean Power Link in response to the FERC-required Open Solicitation process recently conducted by the company.
The Certificate of Public Good was supported by agreements with the State of Vermont Public Service Department, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation; the Conservation Law Foundation; the towns of Alburg, Benson, and Ludlow; and with Green Mountain Power, Burlington Electric Department and Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO).
These agreements stipulate that, once in service, the project will contribute more than $720 million in direct public benefit payments to Vermont over its 40-year life. The agreements comprise a mix of dedicated funds, lease payments, environmental protections and other benefits.
The Clean Power Link is anticipated to provide $1.9 billion in energy savings to New England over its useful life. The project will also eliminate millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year to help the region meet federal, regional and state goals.
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources previously issued eight permits for the project confirming that the construction and operation of the Clean Power Link will be in compliance with Vermont’s Water Quality Standards and consistent with the federal Clean Water Act.