DOE Final Environmental Review Puts NE Clean Power Link on Track for Presidential Permit

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released its final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for TDI New England’s (TDI-NE) proposed New England Clean Power Link, bringing the transmission line project closer to receiving a presidential permit.

DOE said in the FEIS that its proposed action “is the issuance of a presidential permit that would authorize the construction, operation and maintenance of the project, which would cross the United States–Canada border.” DOE will use the FEIS in its final decision making process on whether it will issue the presidential permit.

TDI-NE in May 2014 applied to DOE to construct, operate and maintain the 154-mile line as a merchant transmission facility that would deliver primarily hydroelectric power from Quebec, Canada, into Vermont and the ISO-New England system. The project would consist of a 1,000 MW high voltage direct current line and a converter station in Ludlow, Vt. As proposed, the transmission line would include both underground segments and underwater segments buried in Lake Champlain.

In the FEIS, DOE determined that construction and operation of the underwater and land-based segments generally would have only minor, temporary environmental effects. DOE noted, however, that construction of the underwater segment may adversely affect three underwater archaeological sites, and construction of the land-based segment may adversely affect 23 properties that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. DOE said it is working with the Vermont State Historic Preservation Office to avoid or minimize those effects.

During the lifetime of the project, TDI-NE has agreed to contribute $109 million to Vermont's Clean Energy Development Fund, paid at a rate of $5 million annually during the first 20 years, to support in-state renewable energy development.

On Oct. 15, TDI-NE commenced an open solicitation process for capacity on the transmission line. The open solicitation ends on Dec. 4. The company said it expects to receive the requisite federal and state permits for the project by the end of the year so construction on the line can begin in 2016. Commercial operation is slated for 2019.

DOE in October 2014 issued a presidential permit for the construction and operation of the Champlain Hudson Power Express, a 1,000 MW transmission line that will deliver Quebec hydroelectric and wind power to New York City.

Lead image: Lighthouse on Lake Champlain. Credit: Shutterstock.

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