Developers push pause on Vermont Green Line permitting process

ADDISON COUNTY — Developers of the proposed Vermont Green Line renewable energy project, which would bury a high-tension power line through part of Addison County, announced Wednesday that they are voluntarily suspending the formal process for getting a state permit.
“We began to realize that the resolving of some issues regarding the injection of power in northwestern Vermont was going to take a bit longer than we originally had planned given the number of stakeholders that it touches on and the complexities of the issues,” said National Grid’s Joe Rossignoli. “So we decided rather than play that out in the regulatory forum, it would be more productive just to slow down the permitting process and give that discussion its due time.”
Formally speaking, the VGL developers are requesting a voluntary suspension of the Section 248 process before the Vermont Public Service Board.
 “We’re slowing the regulatory process down because we want the project to provide maximum benefit to Vermont. And we feel that more stakeholder discussion is required in order to achieve that.”
National Grid and Anbaric Transmission are the development partners behind the Vermont Green Line multimillion-dollar-energy transmission project. United as the Green Line Infrastructure Alliance, the two companies seeks to lay 60 miles of HVDC (high voltage direct current) cable to transmit 400 megawatts of electricity produced by renewable sources from Beekmantown, N.Y., into the New England grid at the VELCO substation in New Haven. The cable would go under Lake Champlain to Ferrisburgh and then underground to New Haven.
Green Line Infrastructure Alliance negotiated millions of dollars in concessions with New Haven and was negotiating with Ferrisburgh and Waltham, to also pay for use of their rights of way.
Rossignoli declined to name any of the individual “stakeholders” that the VGL partnership has been in discussion with. However, he explained that by “stakeholders” he meant primarily large renewable power generators in northwestern Vermont. He further explained that “large” meant projects that generate 20 megawatts or more, and include such sources as wind, solar, geothermal or biomass. Also included among these “stakeholders” are the businesses that serve large-scale power generators.
At issue, said Rossignoli, are the projected impacts that VGL’s 400 megawatts or wind and hydro from upstate New York might or might not have on renewables generated within Vermont itself.
Said Rossignoli: “When you talk about those kinds of impacts, it isn’t black and white. It has to do with the assumptions that one uses around the time when the project will be online and what its operating level will be and what the operating level of the other generators will be and how they’ll coincide and not coincide, what the generation levels of those generators would be if we weren’t online. It’s sort of projecting 20, 30 years into the future around what would happen with these generators if we’re there or if we aren’t there.”
Asked to clarify if the issues being discussed were primarily around the capacity of the main transmission system in the western half of the state, Rossignoli said, “We’re talking about our project bringing new power into the region and because the transmission system is sometimes limited in what it can accommodate that may or may not have impacts on other generators. I really can’t comment on it any more than that.”
Rossignoli said that VGL developers had been working on “solving this issue for a while” but that only fairly recently did they realize “it’s an issue that’s going to take longer than any of us expected.”
Nevertheless, Rossignoli said that VGL developers would continue their negotiations with energy suppliers interested in purchasing capacity on the 400 megawatt HVDC underground cable.
He also said that VGL developers are exploring a different entry point into Vermont for the cable. As originally presented, the cable would cross under Lake Champlain from Beekmantown to Kingsland Bay in Ferrisburgh and from there make its way underground to a site adjacent to the VELCO substation in New Haven.
Developers are now looking at an alternative entry point in nearby Hawkins Bay.
A group of Addison County residents organized as Friends of Kingsland Bay has raised concerns about cable’s being routed directly through Kingsland Bay State Park and the prime swimming, boating and protected natural areas the park encompasses.
In an agreement concluded last October, the project would bring New Haven, site of the VGL converter station, benefits including payments of $1.4 million per year to the town for 40 years, with yearly 1 percent adjustments for inflation; and $4 million to build a new fire station and a new town garage.
Gaen Murphree is reached at [email protected]

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