Vermont state regulators have amended National Grid USA’s certificate of public good (CPG) in relation to its proposed reconductoring and refurbishment of a portion of its existing 115-kV transmission line in the Vermont towns of Readsboro and Whitingham.
According to the state Public Service Board’s (PSB) Nov. 15 order, in April 2011, the PSB issued an order granting the CPG to New England Power Company d/b/a National Grid, authorizing the work.
Conditions 4 and 5 of the CPG required that, before project construction, National Grid file with the PSB a copy of its “Vermont General Permit 3-9020-2008” and its “Category 2 Programmatic General Permit” from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. National Grid was to also file its erosion prevention and sediment control (EPSC) plan with the PSB for approval.
Last September, the PSB clerk issued a memorandum requiring that National Grid update the PSB on its compliance with those conditions. Later that month, the company told the PSB that it had not yet begun site preparation or construction of the project, included with its letter to the PSB its EPSC plan, and indicated that it had, in consultation with the Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), determined that it did not need the two specific permits described in Condition 4.
Instead, the company said it requires an individual construction stormwater discharge permit from the DEC and is eligible to submit a “Category I Self-Verification Form” to the Army Corps of Engineers. The company also asked that the PSB approve its EPSC plan and waive the requirements of Condition 4 as a result of the variations in its permit requirements.
Earlier this month, National Grid filed a copy of its final individual construction stormwater discharge permit with the PSB, including an EPSC plan, as approved by the DEC.
“In this order, we amend Condition 4 of [National Grid’s] CPG to require it to file its [Army Corps of Engineers] category [I] self-verification form and its DEC individual construction stormwater discharge permit, and we approve [National Grid’s] EPSC plan,” the PSB said, adding that as the company has already provided copies of both of those permits, it has complied with the condition as modified.
The PSB approved the EPSC plan, noting that the DEC-approved EPSC plan meets Condition 5 of the company’s CPG.
According to the Nov. 15 amended CPG, the PSB has found that the project “will promote the general good of the state,” subject to certain conditions, such as one that calls for National Grid to implement practices to avoid introducing new populations of invasive species in the right-of-way (ROW) including the removal of soil and plant debris containing invasive noxious weed seeds from construction equipment before moving it onto the ROW work sites.
Project description in 2011 order
According to the April 2011 order, the proposed project is part of National Grid’s larger A127/B128W Reconductoring and Refurbishment Project, which will involve reconductoring and shield wire replacement on an approximately 2.5-mile section of the existing A127/B128W 115-kV lines in Vermont and an approximately 64.8-mile section of the existing lines in Massachusetts. The proposed project encompasses the 2.5-mile section in Readsboro and Whitingham, and will also include four pole structure replacements and foundation reinforcements for one pole structure.
The Massachusetts and Vermont projects are estimated to cost $82.7m, with the Vermont portion of the total being $6.6m and the Massachusetts portion being $76.1m.
The existing lines, including the shield wires, which provide lightning protection, were built in the 1920s. The PSB also noted that the Vermont section of the A127/B128W line runs from the Harrimand substation in Readsboro and travels through Whitingham to the Massachusetts border. The Massachusetts section ends in Leicester, Mass.
“The proposed project is required to meet the need for present and future demand for service, which could not otherwise be provided in a more cost-effective manner through energy conservation programs and measures and energy efficiency and load management measures,” the PSB added.
The need for the proposed project is not driven by new electrical demand, the PSB said, noting that the proposed project is driven by the need to replace transmission line components nearing the end of their useful lives; improve substandard clearance-to-ground conditions; and improve electric reliability by reducing danger from lightning events.
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