With a final regulatory hurdle behind them, developers of a $1.2 billion project to bring electricity from Canada to New England via a cable beneath Lake Champlain are planning to begin construction this year.
A certificate of public good was granted Tuesday to the 154-mile “New England Power Link.” by the Vermont Public Service Board.
When completed in 2019, the project, consisting of two cables each about 6 inches in diameter, would deliver to the region about 1,000 megawatts of “clean, reliable, low-cost power” from hydroelectric plants, wind farms and other renewable sources, developer Donald Jessome, CEO of TDI New England, said in a statement Wednesday.
The heavily shielded cables would cross the U.S. border in Alburgh and run about 97 miles underwater to Benson, according to submitted plans. From there, the cables would travel underground along existing and leased rights of way to Ludlow, where a converter station would connect the power to the New England grid.
The project encountered virtually no opposition in its one-year approval process. It has the support of the Conservation Law Foundation, among other environmental groups.
In its approval, the Public Service Board concluded that the project “will provide significant environmental, electrical, and economic benefits for Vermont and the region, including diversifying the state and regional fuel supply, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating in-state jobs, producing millions of dollars in new state and local taxes and public good benefits, and potentially lowering electricity costs.”
As part of its agreement with the state, TDI New England has agreed to pay about $720 million over the course of 40 years toward lease payments and environmental protection, including pollution reduction in Lake Champlain.
Gov. Peter Shumlin termed the overall benefits “huge” in a written statement. He broke some of them down: about $260 million “to aid our cleanup efforts, restore habitats, and enhance recreational opportunities on Lake Champlain, over $100 million to promote additional clean energy development in Vermont, and $136 million in savings for Vermont ratepayers.”
TDI New England is a project of the Blackstone Portfolio Company.
Blackstone is backing a similar project beneath New York portions of Lake Champlain, the “Champlain Hudson Power Express,” which has been approved to deliver electricity between Quebec and New York City.
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