Regional Electricity Transmission Proposal Gets Power Grid OK

ISO New England, manager of the region’s power grid, announced last week that it has selected Eversource Energy and National Grid’s alternating current transmission proposal as the preferred transmission solution to bolster the region’s power grid.

Eversource Energy, formerly known as Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH), presented to the Town Council in November its proposed alternative – construction of a new transmission line between Londonderry and Tewksbury, Mass., to address identified weaknesses and growing demands on the electric system.

Town Manager Kevin Smith said in a Feb. 13 email that a representative from Eversource confirmed the project presented to the Council was the same one that had been selected as ISO’s preferred solution to improve the region’s power grid.

The solution consists of a portfolio of electric transmission upgrades straddling southern New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the Merrimack Valley and Greater Boston area. Each is independently needed; together, they are expected to strengthen the power grid to meet the growing demand for electricity in the region and reduce bottlenecks on the system that can increase electricity costs, according to a press release from Eversource Energy.

Of the projects to be completed as part of the solution – the Merrimack Valley Reliability Project, the Woburn to Wakefield Line and the Mystic (Everett) to Woburn Line – the Merrimack Valley Reliability Project is the only project that would include construction in Londonderry.

The project will include construction of a new underground 345-kV line in existing rights-of-way in Londonderry, Windham, Hudson and Pelham, as well as in two communities in Massachusetts.

Of the 18 miles of line to be constructed in New Hampshire, Eversource will construct 10 miles of line through Londonderry and Hudson.

National Grid is partnering with Eversource to complete part of the project, but will not be completing any work in Londonderry.

No local permitting will be required to complete the project, but Eversource Project Manager Suzanne Findlen said community outreach is necessary.

“Right now, we’re very much in the preliminary planning stages,” she said, noting public hearings will be scheduled 45 days before and after their application for the project is submitted to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC).

Findlen said they are hoping to submit the application by spring, noting it will take about a year for the SEC to review.

 Assuming all goes well, Eversource expects to see a mid-2016 approval, then begin construction late in 2016 or early in 2017. The new transmission line is expected to come into service sometime in 2018.

Plante said transmission line structures are consistent with those that have previously been installed in Londonderry, and no new lines will be co-located on existing poles.

The transmission line is to start near the Scobie Pond Substation, taking a southwesterly path down the middle of town to Wiley Hill Road, then entering Hudson cutting through West Road and Route 102.

Town Council Vice Chairman Jim Butler asked for more details about the route so that abutters may be notified and offered a chance to participate in the planning process and public hearings leading up to construction.

Plante said construction in late 2016 would start with tree work, followed by “earthwork type construction” in the spring, such as digging holes for the utility poles. Construction would then finish in mid-December of 2017, with the project taking about a year to complete.

In total, it’s anticipated the three regional projects, along with the other transmission projects comprising “The Solution,” will cost approximately $520 million. The costs are to be recovered over a period of many years and shared among New England’s 7 million electricity customers, according to the press release.

“We are so pleased to have the support and endorsement of ISO New England as we move forward with our common-sense, cost-effective solution for electricity customers throughout the region,” said Dave Boguslawski, vice president of transmission strategy and operations at Eversource.  “There is an urgent need for more energy infrastructure in our region and this is an important milestone in the process of building these crucial transmission projects.”

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