Transmission line for Canadian imports advances

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A proposed high-voltage direct current transmission line designed to import Canadian power into the New England grid has received a favorable environmental recommendation from the U.S. Department of Energy. 

The New England Clean Power Link is a high-voltage, direct-current transmission project proposed by TDI New England, a subsidiary of private transmission developer Transmission Developers Inc. and ultimately part of the Blackstone Group.

Designed to feed the New England market with up to 1,000 megawatts of electricity, the proposed $1.2 billion New England Clean Power Link project would feature two parallel cables approximately 5” in diameter, operating at a voltage of approximately 300 to 320 kV.  These HVDC lines would run about 154 miles.  Originating at a DC converter station in Quebec, the U.S. portion of the line would start at the international border in Alburgh, Vermont.  It would run beneath the bottom sediments of Lake Champlain for about 98 miles, then turn east and run over land (but underground, mostly under roadway rights-of-way and railway beds) to a terminal converter station in Ludlow, Vermont, where the power could flow onto the New England grid.

Federal law requires most infrastructure development for international trade in energy to apply for and receive a Presidential Permit before the project may be built.  TDI New England applied for the presidential permit in May 2014, and applied to the state of Vermont for permits in December 2014.

As part of the Presidential Permit process, the federal National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA requires the U.S. Department of Energy to evaluate the potential environmental impacts in the United Statesof the proposed action and the range of reasonable alternatives.  In this case, the proposed federal action is the issuance of a Presidential permit to the applicant, Champlain VT, LLC, doing business as TDI - New England, to construct, operate, maintain, and connect a new electric transmission line across the U.S.-Canada border in northern Vermont.

On June 3, the Department of Energy released its final draft Environmental Impact Statement or EIS for the New England Clean Power Link.  In that document, the Department found relatively minimal and short-term adverse environmental impacts from project construction, operation and maintenance. 

Once notice of the draft EIS is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to comment on its analysis.  The Department will also hold public informational meetings in Vermont regarding the project.  According to the EIS, TDI New England expects permitting will continue through mid-2016, with construction and in-service dates as early as 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Meanwhile, TDI is simultaneously pursuing other HVDC transmission lines from Canada into the Northeastern US, most notably the Champlain-Hudson Power Express -- another HVDC line beneath Lake Champlain but continuing on overland and under the Hudson River to a converter station in New York City.   The Champlain-Hudson Power Express won a Presidential Permit in 2014.

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