BEEKMANTOWN – A massive project designed to provide New England residents with converted wind energy is still moving forward despite setbacks.
Planners behind the Vermont Green Line lost the New England Clean Energy RFP to a Maine-based solar provider last October, which means they will not be among the utility companies providing energy to a sizable cache of guaranteed customers.
Without the contract, National Grid needs to find their own customers. But the utility giant is confident they can do so due to the high demand across the country for renewable energy.
“If anything,” this [loss of the RFP] will allow us to get more customers in different areas,” said Mike Relyea of Amanus, a consulting firm assisting National Grid on the project.
The $650 million project is designed to transport converted wind energy under Beekmantown and Lake Champlain through Vermont to New England states.
Instead of just providing power to customers in New England, Relyea said that power can be distributed to anyone in the surrounding area who wishes to be hooked up.
The reason why conversations between the town and Amanus have been muted in recent months, said Relyea, is because the project is now awaiting approval by New York’s and Vermont’s public service commissions.
“We’re just waiting to hear back now and get approval,” he said.
Relyea said Vermont’s process can take anywhere between 6 to 12 months, while New York’s is slightly longer at 12 to 18 months.
Relyea sent out the project details back in May to both states but has since received requests for more information.
Stakeholders are currently in the process of working out project details, such as the pipe going underneath the Point au Roche State Park.
Over six miles of underground cable will be placed in Beekmantown. Relyea said several hundred feet of that line will be placed underneath the park.
Easements still need to be finalized with the state Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation department, said Relyea.
Discussions are also underway between New York Power Authority and National Grid to see how both substations in town are going to work together to take in wind power, convert it and push it back out to customers.
Once these two items are complete, Relyea said, the permitting process can continue.
This update was given to the Beekmantown town board last week.
Council members asked the Amanus consultant if there was any chance the project could start this year.
Relyea shook his head. “I don’t see that happening.
“Construction for the end of 2018 is still our goal and we’re on track for that.”
STILL GETTING TAXABLE ASSETS
Despite losing the RFP, Reylea said the town will still receive the tax payment of $69,913,420 over the first two decades.
Over time, Joe Rossignoli of National Grid said the payment will split among the town, its special districts and the Beekmantown Central School District.
The school district will receive about $62 million, while the town will get around $5 million.
The remainder will be allocated to the town’s fire and water districts.
Clinton County will receive $22 million on top of the $70 million tax payment to Beekmantown – totaling a $90 million taxable asset.
“It’s a big revenue source for the community,” said Town Supervisor Dennis Relation. “It’s also a big plus for our taxpayers.”
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