Utility company National Grid says it wants to build a new transmission line that would bring 1,200 megawatts of renewable power from Canada into New England. The major new project would take a different route than the controversial Northern Pass proposal put forward by Eversource.
National Grid’s new plan, called the Granite State Power Link looks to harness wind and hydroelectric energy in Quebec, and transmit it along 58 miles of line in Vermont. It then would cross the Connecticut River into Littleton, New Hampshire, and continue for 114 miles, before terminating in Londonderry.
The project, which has a $1 billion price tag, would require 6 miles of new transmission lines in New Hampshire, although National Grid says those lines would be built along existing utility corridors. The company says it plans to use 108 miles of existing transmission towers, which would be retrofitted with new lines.
“Our customers need access to cost-effective energy, cost-effective clean supply, and they need it in a way that is ...not very environmentally impactful,” says Joe Rossignoli, project director for Granite State Power Link.“So we think that this project using existing corridors and networks delivers both of those.”
National Grid says the project would create 600 construction jobs in Vermont, and approximately 1,500 jobs in New Hampshire, and the company hopes to finish the project in 2022, but first must get approval by state and federal regulators.
Northern Pass was first proposed in 2011, but has faced pushback from some residents, as well as criticism from environmental groups concerning its route in New Hampshire’s North Country. Eversource’s plan would require approximately 40-miles of new transmission lines, and comes with a $1.6 billion price tag. It would transport 1,090 megawatts of electricity from Quebec.
“Today’s announcement by National Grid speaks to the regional need for new sources of reliable and clean power to replace retiring power plants across New England,” said Martin Murray, a spokesperson for Eversource. “Northern Pass and the proposed Granite State Power Link both represent a significant step toward a more secure energy future."
Environmental groups say they need more details about Granite State Power Link and what natural resources may be impacted by the new proposed power lines. But there is cautious optimism about the project.
“It’s always good to wait and take a close look at what it means on the ground, and what it means in particular communities, and we’ll be doing that as we learn more about the project,” said Jack Savage with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. “But this is, from our perspective, clearly an alternative to Northern Pass and would seem to have many advantages to it.”