Developers of underwater cable offer Vermont $720 million

LAKE CHAMPLAIN — Developers of a planned 154-mile high-voltage transmission cable that would run beneath Lake Champlain agreed to pay the state $720 million over the project’s expected 40-year life, should it be approved by regulators.
The $1.2 billion, 1,000 megawatt transmission line, known as the New England Clean Power Link, would carry hydroelectric and wind power generated in Canada to metropolitan energy markets in the Northeast.
The state stipulated in the agreement that the developer, TDI New England, has provided the Public Service Board with the information necessary to approve the certificate of public good. TDI has reached similar agreements with three towns along the transmission line’s route.
The agreements announced Tuesday secure more than double the minimum $283.5 million contribution in a previous agreement between TDI and the Conservation Law Foundation, and builds off a previous agreement with Vermont Electric Power Co. (VELCO), the state’s transmission utility.
“We have always expressed our willingness to do our part to support projects that help meet the regional need for more clean and reliable power,” Chris Recchia, Department of Public Service commissioner, said in a statement.
Recchia added that if the project is approved and built, the agreement he and several other state agencies reached with TDI ensures Vermont would create significant benefits for ratepayers and other constituencies in the state.
The agreement with the state includes:
• $202 million paid to the state Clean Water Fund and dedicated to Lake Champlain watershed cleanup, paid at a rate of $5 million annually for the 40-year life of the project after two initial $1 million payments.
• $61 million paid to a newly created Lake Champlain Enhancement and Restoration Trust Fund to support habitat restoration and recreational improvements in the Lake Champlain watershed, paid at a rate of $1.5 million annually for the 40-year life of the project after an initial $1 million payment.
• $109 million paid to Vermont’s Clean Energy Development Fund for the 40-year life of the project to promote renewable generation in Vermont, paid at a rate of $5 million annually during the first 20 years of the life of the project, with the remainder paid out annually during the subsequent 20 years.
• $136 million in ratepayer benefits.
Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz called the agreement “terrific news” for the state’s Lake Champlain cleanup efforts. Clean water legislation passed this year will serve as a “down payment” on those efforts, and the money from the agreement will help bolster the efforts paid for by the fund, she said.
In addition, the agreement gives Vermont utilities the option of purchasing 200 megawatts of power should they want it in the future. The company has also made commitments to the towns of Alburgh, Benson and Ludlow, all located along the transmission line route.
TDI New England is a subsidiary of financial firm Blackstone Group, which manages more than $200 billion in assets. The firm anticipates permitting will take until mid-2016, with major construction beginning in 2018. If the New England Clean Energy Link moves forward, the 1,000-megawatt transmission line is anticipated to be carrying power by 2019.
The PSB is expected to schedule the dates and times for technical hearings on TDI’s application for a certificate of public good this fall.
The project will also need approval from federal regulators with the Department of Energy and the Army Corps of Engineers. TDI will also need to secure environmental and construction permits from the state for the project should it obtain the certificate of public good from the PSB.
TDI New England CEO Donald Jessome issued the following statement in a news release with the announced agreements Tuesday:
“With these agreements, the New England Clean Power Link is one step closer to providing clean, lower-cost, renewable electricity for Vermont and New England.”

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