The Merrimack Valley Reliability Project received a Certificate of Approval from the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee on Oct. 4.
That’s good news for the Granite State, as the project will utilize local workers for construction of the new 24.5 mile, 345-kV overhead transmission line from Londonderry to Tewksbury, Mass. Eighteen miles of the project will run through New Hampshire, through the towns of Londonderry, Hudson, Windham, and Pelham.
The transmission line will go from the Hudson line toward Wiley Hill Road, as well as north from Wiley Hill Road toward the Scobie Pond substation.
The project is being carried out jointly by utility companies National Grid and Eversource Energy in response to a study conducted by ISO New England that identified the need for a new transmission line to support the growing demand for electricity in the region. The demand comes as a result of such factors as population growth and more reliance on technology in everyday life.
ISO stands for Independent System Operator and is responsible for monitoring electrical power systems as well as coordinating and controlling their construction and use.
“This project will strengthen the power grid that underpins the economic vitality and powers the quality of life in the region,” Rudy Wynter, president of National Grid’s FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission)-Regulated Businesses, said in a recent press release for the joint project. “A robust, reliable transmission system is critical to support job growth and enable our 21st century economy.”
The project is estimated to create over 1,000 local jobs in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Several New Hampshire-based companies involved with the project include Triple L Trucking and Greymont Trucking of Henniker, M & R Wood Recycling of Derry, A.B. Excavating of Lancaster, U.S. Silt & Site Supply of Bow, Redimix Companies Inc. of Manchester, New England Mat Company of Winchester, and Busby Construction of Atkinson.
According to a press release for the project, released by Eversource on Oct. 19, “Providing opportunities for New Hampshire workers is a cornerstone of our Energy Jobs Partnership,” noted Bill Quinlan, President of New Hampshire electric operations for Eversource. “We are making significant investments in the Granite State to improve electric reliability, and we are committed to seeing that local workers and companies benefit.”
Other New Hampshire companies and workers being sought for the project include crane services, suppliers, material distributors, flaggers, waste removal and police details. New Hampshire Local Unions 104, 490, and 976 will supply lineworkers, electricians and laborers to be utilized by Maine’s ES Boulos Company for substation construction.
Local New Hampshire workers aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the project.
Since the transmission line will be built along existing utility rights-of-way, local species of animals who make their homes in the low growing vegetation there will gain additional habitat from the clearing of wood required by the project.
Eversource has also partnered with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to create a new conservation program called Partners for New Hampshire’s Fish and Wildlife in an effort to protect wildlife while pursuing projects such as the Merrimack Valley Reliability Project.
In a press release by Partners for New Hampshire’s Fish and Wildlife it was announced, “The project will establish at least 30 acres of early successful habitat through two pilot projects on sites in the town of Londonderry and on the Bellamy River Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The pilot projects are part of a larger effort to restore populations of American woodcock, golden-winged warbler and other species dependent on early successional habitat.’
Referring to the Merrimack Valley Reliability Project, Eversource Media Specialist Kaitlyn Woods said, “This is just one of a suite of projects ISO-NE has approved to meet the growing demand for energy in the future.”
The Merrimack Valley Reliability Project is a piece of a larger project called the Greater Boston and New Hampshire Solution, meant to strengthen reliable power in New England.
Woods was one of the representatives for the project available to answer questions at a community informational meeting hosted by Eversource in Londonderry High School’s cafeteria on Oct. 19.
The meeting was one of several public information sessions and public hearings that have been held in New Hampshire to keep residents informed on the project’s progress.
Keeping the community informed played a large part in the project’s approval process.
The Site Evaluation Committee gave verbal approval for the New Hampshire portion of the project in July after several public information meetings and public hearings were held in towns affected by the project. The Certificate of Approval was issued this month following additional public meetings and public hearings.
In addition, letters were sent to abutters of the right-of-way on Oct. 11 informing them about when clearing for the transmission would start and asking if they wanted to keep the wood to be removed from their property. Otherwise, the wood will be sent to the Schiller Station in Portsmouth, which burns wood chips for renewable energy.
As the project moves forward, the project team will continue to hold community meetings. Project representatives from National Grid and Eversource will also be posting regular updates on the project’s website.
As explained in an email from Londonderry Conservation Commission member Deb Lievens, “New Hampshire Fish and Game uses transmission lines as part of their planning for the New England Cottontail. They see it as perfect scrub habitat that can act as a corridor for the rabbits. Also other animals, especially birds, benefit from the scrub habitats maintained by the power companies. “
Two of the birds benefited by the maintenance of the transmission lines are the prairie warblers and towhees, Lievens said, adding that she always hears them when she is walking along the transmission lines by the Musquash Conservation Area.
Lievens spoke positively of Eversource (formerly Public Service Company of New Hampshire or PSNH), saying the company “has always been careful about their management time” and honors the Conservation Commission’s “requests to not work during nesting season.
“So I would say, I don’t worry about power line cuts,” Lievens said.
For further information about the Merrimack Valley Reliability Project, visit the project website at www.MA-NHSolution.com.