July 16, 2011

National Grid Proposes New HVDC Corridor Maine to Mass.

On July 11, National Grid, Emera, and First Wind announced preliminary plans for a major new transmission project between northeastern Maine and Massachusetts – the North East Energy Link (NEL), and in doing so clearly suggested that their project had advantages over the NU/N-Star/Hydro-Quebec Northern Pass proposal. Those advantages purportedly include less visual blight thanks to burying the line and greater tax benefits for New Hampshire.

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests has taken no position on the NEL proposal. The competing NEL transmission proposal does, however, strengthen the arguments for a comprehensive, regional review of current and likely future proposals as called for by the Forest Society, Conservation Law Foundation, Appalachian Mountain Club and others. Read the related op-ed here.

The timing of the NEL proposal also supports the view that these projects are less about renewable energy and more about international energy corporations battling for future market share. The rush to market is on. It also offers a likely, if unacceptable, explanation for why Northeast Utilities and National Grid have not serioiusly discussed the viability of using NG's existing HVDC corridor from Des Cantons, Quebec, to Ayer, MA (through NH) to host the proposed Northern Pass transmission line instead of carving out 40 miles of new corridor and expanding 140 miles of PSNH corridor through New Hampshire.
NEL would be 220 miles of underground, HVDC transmission lines delivering 1100 MW of windpower from northern Maine to southern New England via existing rights of way (primarily) or existing transportation corridors--thought a specific route has not yet been developed., apparently to be sited in existing rights of way and transportation corridors.

Read the complete FERC filing for NEL here.

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