National Grid seeks approval for Interstate Reliability Project in Massachusetts

National Grid USA on June 21 filed a report to the state Energy Facilities Siting Board in support of the company’s petition for approval by the state Department of Public Utilities to build, operate and maintain the Massachusetts portion of the Interstate Reliability Project (IRP).

According to the filing, New England Power d/b/a National Grid, along with Narragansett Electric d/b/a National Grid and Northeast Utilities subsidiary Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P), are proposing to build and operate new 345-kV electric transmission lines and make related modifications and improvements to existing 345-kV and 115-kV lines and facilities in south-central Massachusetts, northwestern Rhode Island and northeastern Connecticut.

A company spokesperson told TransmissionHub June 26 that this is the first time that National Grid has applied for this approval for this project in Massachusetts. “We are seeking approval from the state Energy Facilities Siting Board to construct facilities,” he said.

A typical timeline for such licensing is 18 months, but it could be longer or shorter.

He also said that National Grid hopes to begin project construction in the early 2014 timeframe.

The Army Corps of Engineers permit application, which covered the work in all three states and was a joint application between National Grid and Northeast Utilities, was submitted on May 25. The Army Corps permitting process will follow a similar timeframe to the various state energy facilities siting board timelines, the spokesperson added.

FERC does not issue a license per se, but is aware of the project as National Grid and Northeast Utilities have made various filings on the New England East-West Solution (NEEWS) projects, of which the IRP is a part.

“A variety of federal, state and local permits need to be sought for this type of project, and we hope to have the entire licensing and permitting process completed by early 2014, and construction would commence shortly thereafter,” the spokesperson said of the IRP.

According to the filing, the IRP includes building new 345-kV transmission lines along existing overhead transmission line right-of-way (ROW) extending about 15.4 miles in Massachusetts, 22.5 miles in Rhode Island and 36.8 miles in Connecticut, together with related improvements to existing 345-kV and 115-kV facilities and improvements to the Millbury No. 3 switching station in Millbury, Mass., the Sherman Road switching station in Burrillville, R.I., the Lake Road switching station in Killingly, Conn., and the Card Street substation in Lebanon, Conn.

National Grid will own the proposed facilities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, while CL&P will own the proposed facilities in Connecticut.

National Grid also said it anticipates having the proposed Massachusetts facilities in service by late 2015, noting that this schedule is based on time estimates of project licensing and permitting, detailed engineering, materials procurement and construction.

The total estimated project cost in Massachusetts is $100.1m – that is, $67.4m for the new 345-kV transmission line from the Millbury No. 3 switching station to the Massachusetts/Rhode Island border; $2.1m for removal of existing 69-kV towers in Massachusetts; and $30.6m for the Millbury No. 3 switching station 345-kV equipment additions.

National Grid also said that the jurisdictional facilities proposed include the 15.4-mile Massachusetts portion of the proposed “366 line” and ancillary work at the Millbury No. 3 switching station. That line will be built on existing ROWs between the Millbury No. 3 switching station and the West Farnum substation, which is located in North Smithfield, R.I. The proposed line will pass through the towns of Millbury, Sutton, Northbridge, Uxbridge and Millville in Massachusetts, and then continue to the West Farnum substation. The existing ROW in Massachusetts is occupied for most of its length by two 115-kV transmission lines and the remaining structures of two 69-kV transmission lines that were taken out of service in the 1990s, the company added.

A 2011 needs assessment released by ISO New England identified a reliability-based need to reinforce the 345-kV system into Rhode Island; increase the transmission transfer capability from western New England and greater Rhode Island into eastern New England; increase the transmission transfer capability into Connecticut; and increase the transmission transfer capability from eastern New England and greater Rhode Island to western New England.

National Grid said it anticipates that the results of a 2012 needs assessment update will be available shortly.

The company considered a no-action alternative and underground transmission alternatives. It also compared various alternatives for meeting the identified need, National Grid said, adding that its goal throughout the planning and design phases has been to choose the alternative that best meets the project need, with a minimum impact on the environment, at the lowest possible cost.

The IRP is expected to provide additional tax revenue for the five Massachusetts towns in which it will be located, without requiring any significant increase in municipal services. The project represents a capital investment of almost $100m in the five towns. Municipal tax revenues will start after the facilities are placed in service, and are expected to continue at decreasing levels throughout the book-life of the facilities, the company added.

Among other things, National Grid said that in the long-term, the project will support the area’s economy by meeting current and projected needs for reliable power in southern New England.

National Grid is a subsidiary of National Grid plc.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3236 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.