Top 10, No. 9: Vermont Green Line short-circuits

For about two years the towns of New Haven and Ferrisburgh, and to a much lesser extent Waltham, had talked with a consortium of companies that had hoped to build an underground transmission line running from upstate New York to New Haven.
The so-called Vermont Green Line, or VGL, was planned to carry hydro- and wind-generated electricity from New York to power-hungry southern New England states. It would have run under Lake Champlain, surfaced in Ferrisburgh, run along back roads to Route 7, headed south through Ferrisburgh and a short stretch of Waltham to New Haven Junction, and turned east to a new converter station in New Haven, and then hooked into the existing power grid.
For using town road rights of way and saddling New Haven with the noisy converter station, the companies involved, National Grid and Anbaric Transmission, made promises to the towns.
New Haven — which agreed to the project after debate and a town-wide poll — would get payments of $1.4 million per year for 40 years, with yearly 1 percent adjustments for inflation; $4 million to build a new fire station and a new town garage; and a VGL Compensation Fund for designated abutters, with an initial amount of $1 million.
A final deal was never struck in Ferrisburgh, but at a November 2015 meeting VGL representatives suggested they would pay the town at least $350,000 a year for 20 years, on top of an estimated $150,000 a year in local property taxes the project would generate.
They also left the door open for further talks that never really got off the ground, although a town committee worked out power-line design details and contract language, and the VGL firms agreed to spend $40,000 to support Ferrisburgh’s research efforts on the project and on fees for lawyers and technical experts.
But the two towns’ visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads never became real, or at least it now looks unlikely they will.
Late last year the VGL firms announced they had not won a contract they had expected, but were still confident in the project and were pursuing alternatives.
Then this past November the companies announced they were calling a halt to their 13-month effort to obtain permitting for the project, in the form of a Certificate of Public Good from the Public Utilities Commission.
Joe Rossignoli, director of U.S. business development for National Grid, did say the companies hope to revive the plan if they can get a contract when Massachusetts makes a decision on a major energy deal early in 2018.
Rossignoli said although the companies “feel as though the project has a lot of value, we want to find out what commercially the landscape looks like for new transmission lines after this giant Massachusetts procurement takes place.”
Ferrisburgh selectboard members took the news in stride. But New Haven had gone further down the road.
The announcement left New Haven “in limbo,” said Selectman Steve Dupoise, who has been the selectboard’s lead negotiator with VGL developers.
“Joe (Rossignoli) called me a couple of weeks ago and said that they were going to be pulling that, and I said, ‘OK, where does that leave us?’” Dupoise said. “And he said, ‘Well there’s some other RFPs coming in Massachusetts and that might turn into something.”

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