Connecticut state agency approves Interstate Reliability Project

The Connecticut Siting Council has approved the Interstate Reliability Project, proposed by Northeast Utilities’ (NYSE:NU) Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) and National Grid plc subsidiary National Grid USA, saying that there is a public need for the proposed facility.

The council also said in its Dec. 27, 2012, decision and order that the effects associated with building a new overhead 345-kV electric transmission line and associated facilities extending between CL&P’s Card Street substation in the town of Lebanon, Lake Road switching station in the town of Killingly, and the Connecticut/Rhode Island border in the town of Thompson; and related additions at CL&P’s existing Card Street substation, Lake Road switching station and Killingly substation “are not disproportionate either alone or cumulatively with other effects compared to need, are not in conflict with the policies of the state concerning such effects, and are not sufficient reason to deny the application.”

The council said CL&P is to prepare a development and management plan for the project that should include a detailed site plan showing the placement of the access roads, structure foundations, equipment and material staging area for the overhead route; vegetative clearing plan; a wetland restoration plan; and details of protection measures for active farmland.

CL&P is to also provide to the council an operating report within three months after the conclusion of the first year of operation of all facilities, and annually thereafter for a period of three years, with information relevant to the overall condition, safety, reliability and operation of the transmission systems.

Among other things, the council said the decision and order are to be void if all construction is not completed within four years of the effective date of the decision and order, or within four years after all appeals to the decision and order have been resolved.

According to the related council opinion, also dated Dec. 27, 2012, CL&P would own and operate the Connecticut portion of the project, although once commercial operation begins, the company expects to transfer some of the facilities to UIL Holdings’ (NYSE:UIL) United Illuminating.

The project would pass through federally owned property within Mansfield Hollow State Park in Mansfield and Chaplin, the council said, adding that since the existing CL&P right-of-way on this property is too narrow to accommodate the proposed line alongside the existing transmission line, CL&P has proposed expanding the ROW.

The council also urged CL&P to place electric distribution lines underground at areas where the proposed transmission line would cross.

Regarding the project’s need, the council said, for instance, that the project increases the security of the electric system for Connecticut’s neighbors and thus for Connecticut. Under contingencies, it eliminates thermal overloads on critical transmission lines in Massachusetts that provide power to Connecticut customers.

Also, by providing two new 345-kV lines into the West Farnum substation in Rhode Island, the project eliminates deficiencies otherwise likely, under contingencies, to cause a voltage collapse of Rhode Island’s transmission system that could easily propagate into Connecticut, the council added.

CL&P said on Jan. 8 that the Connecticut portion of the project has an estimated cost of $218m.

The portions of the project in Rhode Island and Massachusetts extend about 38 miles through National Grid’s service areas, CL&P said, adding that the siting decisions in those states are expected later this year, with project construction set to begin shortly thereafter.

A Northeast Utilities spokesperson told TransmissionHub on Jan. 8 that the Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing the project and is expected to issue a decision later this year or early 2014.

The project, which is scheduled to be in service by late 2015, is also expected to bring economic benefits to all three states by creating new local jobs and generating new property tax revenue to towns along the project route, CL&P said.

The project is part of the New England East-West Solution (NEEWS), which comprises three other projects: the Greater Springfield Reliability Project, the Rhode Island Reliability Project and the Central Connecticut Reliability Project.

According to TransmissionHub data, Greater Springfield Reliability Project is a 39-mile, 345-kV transmission line that begins in New Bloomfield, Conn., and ends in Ludlow, Mass. The project, which is sponsored by Northeast Utilities, will cost $718m. Construction is set to complete in late 2013.

Northeast Utilities’ Rhode Island Reliability Project will run from Kent County, R.I., to West Farnum, Mass., and has an estimated cost of $250m.

The Central Connecticut Reliability Project, also planned by Northeast Utilities, is a 36-mile, 345-kV transmission line, starting in Frostbridge, Conn., and ending in North Bloomfield, Conn.

That project is being studied and the company does not have a cost estimate for it, the spokesperson said.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3203 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.