The Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board has ordered the state Public Utilities Commission and other “designated” agencies to submit advisory opinions on the Rhode Island components of National Grid USA’s Interstate Reliability Project by April 10, 2013.
According to the board’s Oct. 10 preliminary decision and order, the company proposes to build a new 345-kV transmission line – the “366 line” – from the existing Millbury No. 3 switching station in Millbury, Mass., to the West Farnum substation in North Smithfield, a total distance of about 20.2 miles, of which about 4.8 miles are in Rhode Island. The line will be built within an existing National Grid right-of-way (ROW) in North Smithfield.
As part of the project, National Grid and Northeast Utilities (NYSE:NU) propose to build a new 345-kV transmission line – the “341 Line” – between the West Farnum substation and the Lake Road switching station in Killingly, Conn., a total distance of about 25.3 miles, of which about 17.7 miles are in Rhode Island. This line will be built within an existing National Grid ROW that extends through North Smithfield and Burrillville.
The project also entails, among other things, relocating about 0.25 miles of an existing 345-kV line outside of the Sherman Road switching station to realign with the reconstructed Sherman Road switching station.
The order noted that the Energy Facility Siting Act consolidates in the board, with two exceptions, all state and local governmental regulatory authority for the siting, construction or alteration of major energy facilities. A board decision in favor of an application to site a major energy facility “shall constitute a granting of all permits, licenses, variances or assents,” the order said.
Final board hearings regarding the instant application have not yet been scheduled, but should begin by May 25, 2013, according to the order.
Issues to be considered at the final hearing include whether the proposed project is needed to meet the energy needs of the state and/or region; whether the project is cost-justified and can be expected to produce energy at the lowest reasonable cost to the consumer; whether the proposed project will cause unacceptable harm to the environment; and whether the proposed facility will enhance the socio-economic fabric of the state, according to the order.
National Grid is a subsidiary of National Grid plc.