Ferrisburgh to ask for sweeter deal on ‘green’ power line

FERRISBURGH — The Ferrisburgh selectboard at its Nov. 17 meeting said it would appoint a three-member committee to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with the companies proposing a $600 million, 400-megawatt underground power line that would run under Ferrisburgh roads from Kingsland Bay to Route 7 on its way to a New Haven converter station.
At a Nov. 12 meeting in Ferrisburgh, representatives of the “Vermont Green Line” that would move wind and hydro power generated in New York and Canada into the New England grid said they would pay the town at least $350,000 a year for 20 years on top of an estimated $150,000 a year in municipal property taxes the project would generate.
Officials from Anbaric Transmission, a Wakefield, Mass., company that specializes in high-voltage energy-transmission projects, and National Grid, a Waltham, Mass., firm that transmits electricity and natural gas to customers around the Northeast, also said the line in Ferrisburgh would generate $900,000 in taxes for the Vermont Education Fund.
At the Tuesday meeting last week, Selectboard Chairman Steve Gutowski said that offer to Ferrisburgh, already sweetened since September, might not be enough.
“Hopefully, they understand we are not going to roll over and show them our soft side,” Gutowski said.
Board members agreed with Gutowski’s statement that negotiating with Anbaric and National Grid representatives would “best be done with a small group,” such as a three-person committee.
Gutowski said he would like Ferrisburgh Conservation Commission Chairman Craig Heindel to serve on the town’s negotiating committee. Heindel, who was present, did not say no. Gutowski said he had one more recommendation, though he would wait to make it at this Tuesday’s selectboard special budget meeting.
Board member Loretta Lawrence nominated Gutowski to serve on the three-person negotiating committee. Gutowski said he would be willing to serve, but might have to step down if the Vermont Green Line companies approached him about using his waterfront business or its acreage for the Lake Champlain portion of the project.
The companies originally planned to install the line along Ferrisburgh roads, but now are proposing to bury the line directly under traveled lanes.
Their representatives on Nov. 12 pledged a “curb-to-curb” repaving of the roads and said no trace of the line would remain except junction boxes needed to splice the line every 2,500 feet. Resident Bob McNary said, however, he understood those boxes would be 10 feet by 12 feet.
In Ferrisburgh, the line is proposed to come ashore at Kingsland Bay and run south along Kingsland Bay Road to Hawkins Road, jog briefly west on that road to Sand Road, head south on Sand Road to Little Chicago Road, east on that road to Botsford Road, south on Botsford Road, and then east on Tuppers Crossing to Route 7.
From there it would head south on the state highway to a converter station off Route 17 in New Haven. (New Haven officials discussed that converter station at their Dec. 17 meeting; see story here) The 60-mile line would begin at a converter station in Beekmantown, N.Y., and head to Lake Champlain and be buried under the lake bottom and resurface at Kingsland Bay. Company officials say the line would not interfere with boat moorings or anchors.
Vermont Green Line officials hope that if the project can obtain a Vermont Public Service Board Certificate of Public Good and all other needed permits, it could begin construction in late 2017 or early 2018 and be completed in late 2019 or early 2020.
In addition to how the town would be paid for the use of its road rights of way, selectboard members and some of the residents at the meeting said other issues would also have to be worked out during talks with Anbaric and National Grid.
Those will include, for example, specs for repaving the roads, details of how the companies plan to deal with the many culverts the power line (to be placed in a trench four feet deep and two feet wide) will encounter on the way, and language in the easements needed from the town and private landowners.
Also on the table will be a longer payment term than 20 years, an index that would increase the annual $350,000 payment over time, and possibly a bike path to run along the roads, board members said.
On Nov. 12, Vermont Green Line officials estimated the value of improvements in Ferrisburgh to be roughly $50 million, a figure that Ferrisburgh lister Carl Cole said equaled about 10 percent of the town’s current grand list.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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