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High-voltage power line project back on the radar for New Haven, Ferrisburgh

NEW HAVEN — The Vermont Green Line was the ill-fated high-voltage power line that developers wanted to run through northwestern Addison County until late 2017, when sponsors pulled the plug after failing to get contracts to deliver energy to southern New England.
But now the project, which could bring millions of dollars in payments to New Haven and Ferrisburgh for hosting the infrastructure, could be back on the table.
Last week representatives of National Grid, a British energy firm that is a major player in the New England electricity market, contacted officials in New Haven and Ferrisburgh to say the company will revive the Vermont Green Line, or VGL, if it wins a contract to transmit power from Hydro Quebec to Connecticut.
That contract will be awarded in December, according to company officials.
The VGL high-voltage line would start in Beekmantown, N.Y., run under Lake Champlain to Kingsland Bay in Ferrisburgh, follow several Ferrisburgh side roads to Route 7 at its intersection with Tuppers Crossing just north of Vergennes, go south along Route 7 to Route 17 in New Haven, and then head east to a converter station before hooking onto the major VELCO transmission that heads southward.
As compensation for hosting the station and using New Haven road rights of way, National Grid had formally agreed to pay New Haven at least $1.4 million a year, put another $4 million toward a new fire station and town garage, and pay neighbors of the new power station there at least $1 million. Over the objections of some neighbors, New Haven voters backed that deal, which the selectboard had recommended.
National Grid spokesperson Alex Maclean of Leonine Public Affairs affirmed the company’s promises in a Wednesday email to the Independent.
“National Grid stands by all of the commitments made to municipalities,” MacLean said.
New Haven Town Clerk Pam Kingman confirmed Selectboard Chairman Steve Dupoise was contacted last week, and the issue was on the New Haven board’s agenda on Tuesday.
National Grid had not struck a final deal in Ferrisburgh, where the selectboard also briefly discussed the VGL at its Tuesday meeting.
MacLean recently spoke to Ferrisburgh’s VGL committee head, Craig Heindel. Heindel told the Independent on Wednesday MacLean said National Grid recognizes it must complete a “Host Town Agreement” for use of and work in about a half-dozen miles of Ferrisburgh’s road rights of way, plus details of the project and restoration of the roadsides.
Heindel said MacLean represented that National Grid would “reopen discussions and negotiations with the town of Ferrisburgh” and “clearly acknowledged the arrangement with Ferrisburgh was not finalized.”
MacLean described those as “fair characterizations” of their discussion.
While striking a deal with New Haven and before halting their application process, VGL companies had not since November 2015 said anything of substance on how they plan to pay Ferrisburgh.
In a November 2015 public meeting VGL representatives suggested the company could 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 could generate.
Since then Ferrisburgh has received about $40,000 to support the town’s research efforts on project details and on fees for lawyers and technical experts.
National Grid’s earlier proposals included wind power from upstate New York, but now the company plans to transmit only power generated by Hydro Quebec. Heindel said MacLean was optimistic in part because of that change.
“She did say they were hopeful this time because the source had changed,” Heindel said.
MacLean said National Grid officials are optimistic about their prospects for a contract.
“We are confident that VGL is the right project for Connecticut customers as it brings clean, reliable and firm energy into the New England grid with minimal impact to the environment,” she said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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