DOE approves TDI New England Clean Power Link transmission project

transmission power line elp

TDI New England received the final environmental impact statement from the U.S. Department of Energy for its $1.2 billion Clean Power Link transmission project designed to move power from renewable resources in Canada to Vermont, TDI-NE said in a statement.

The final EIS said DOE’s preferred alternative “is the issuance of a Presidential permit that would authorize the construction, operation and maintenance of the project,” which would cross the U.S. border with Canada.

The planned 154-mile project is a high voltage, direct current line that would be capable of delivering 1,000 MW into the ISO New England system at a substation in Cavendish, Vermont.

It includes a 97-mile underwater segment in Lake Champlain and a 57-mile underground segment in Vermont to move power from Quebec, Canada, to a converter station in Ludlow, Vermont.

The final EIS noted that TDI-NE developed environmental mitigation measures to minimize environmental impacts before, during and after construction.

Cable installation on the Lake Champlain segment would occur between June 1 and Nov. 1 to avoid icy conditions on the lake, although installation in the southern portion of the lake could occur up to Dec. 31 if needed, DOE said.

Installation in shallow water depths would result in temporary, local effects on water quality during construction, with cables buried underwater at different depths using jet plowing and shear plowing methods, with shear plowing resulting in less sediment suspension and dispersion, DOE said.

At water depths of more than 150 feet, the cables would be laid on the lakebed and allowed to self-bury, and the route within Lake Champlain is designed to avoid the possibility of anchor snags from boats, the final EIS noted. Even so, it directed TDI-NE to follow certain steps if an anchor snag occurs, including notifying the U.S. Coast Guard, repairing the cables and recovering the snagged anchor, if possible.

The final EIS also noted that the Vermont Public Service Board must approve the siting of the transmission facilities, and that an evidentiary hearing at the PSB took place on Oct. 20. A post-hearing briefs is to be filed by Nov. 10, and the PSB is expected to issue a decision after reviewing the post-hearing brief, DOE said.

The final EIS “marks another milestone in the permitting of the project,” TDI-NE CEO Donald Jessome said in the Oct. 29 statement. “We are confident that, once built, the New England Clean Power Link will deliver environmental and economic benefits to the people of Vermont and New England and do so in a way that minimizes impacts to communities and helps meet the region’s growing energy and environmental challenges,” Jessome said.

TDI-NE said it expects to have all major federal and state permits for the project secured by the end of the year.

In previous statements, TDI-NE has said it anticipates completing a financial close on the project by July 2016, with an in-service date in mid-2019.

Prior to receiving the final EIS, TDI-NE launched an open solicitation process to allocate transmission capacity on the line, with Boston Pacific Co. serving as the independent evaluator to ensure that the process is fair and transparent for all potential bidders.

The open solicitation process began Oct. 15 and is scheduled to end Dec. 4, with TDI-NE seeking expressions of interest from qualified parties willing to acquire firm transmission rights at negotiated rates. Parties interested in purchasing transmission capacity on the Clean Power Link must submit expressions of interest to Boston Pacific by Dec. 4, TDI-NE said in an Oct. 15 statement.

After reviewing the expressions of interest, TDI-NE will identify prospective customers and negotiate rates, terms and conditions for transmission service, with a minimum expression of interest of at least 50 MW of capacity, it said.

TDI-NE said it will evaluate and rank prospective customers based on the following criteria: level of creditworthiness; anticipated amount of reserved capacity; anticipated length of term; financial strength; desired rate for transmission service; and ability to advance New England public policy goals of promoting greenhouse gas reductions and supply diversity.

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