ISO-NE said it supports 345-kV project as critical to New England electric system reliability

ISO New England (ISO-NE), in July 21 direct testimony filed with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), said that it strongly supports a new 345-kV transmission line project, which involves Eversource Energy (NYSE:ES) and National Grid, as critical to New England electric system reliability.

ISO-NE said that it adopts the Updated Needs Assessment and Solution Study material submitted by NSTAR Electric d/b/a Eversource Energy and New England Power d/b/a National Grid in support of an application to build and maintain the new line in Woburn, Winchester, Stoneham and Wakefield.

The “Greater Boston Area Updated Needs Assessment,” dated January 2015 was submitted with a September 2015 filing in the dockets, EFSB 15-04, DPU 15-140 and DPU 15-141. The needs and solutions for the project were developed under a process approved by FERC for transmission system planning, a process led by ISO-NE, ISO-NE added.

The need for the project was studied over several years as part of a Greater Boston area study, ISO-NE said, noting that the effort began in 2008 with the Needs Assessment scope of work and was brought to the Planning Advisory Committee (PAC), which is a stakeholder forum through which the ISO solicits feedback on power system needs and potential solutions. Steady state needs were presented to the PAC, with the original Needs Assessment report being issued in July 2010.

ISO-NE also said that the Needs Assessment was updated in July 2013 to reflect data from the “2013 CELT, the seventh Forward Capacity Auction, and updated cable ratings.”

Alternatives were considered at length, ISO-NE said, adding that it identified a group of regional transmission projects that includes the project as the most cost-effective regulated transmission alternatives to address the identified needs in early 2015.

ISO-NE said that it posted in January 2015 the final Updated Needs Assessment, and it was subsequently submitted by the companies in support of their siting application.

According to the January 2015 “Greater Boston Area Updated Transmission Needs Assessment,” the results of the assessment conducted of the Greater Boston area transmission performance against transmission reliability standards for the projected 2018 and 2023 system conditions discussed in the study indicate that there are a significant number of thermal, voltage and short circuit violations across a number of subareas within the Greater Boston system.

As TransmissionHub reported, Eversource Energy Service (Eversource Service), acting on behalf of its electric operating company affiliates NSTAR Electric and Public Service Company of New Hampshire – together, the Eversource Companies – on Feb. 3 submitted for FERC acceptance of an agreement regarding cost sharing for the Greater Boston Area Transmission Solution Plan between the Eversource Companies and National Grid.

The cost sharing agreement is a contract designed to set forth the respective rights and obligations of the Eversource Companies and National Grid – together, the parties – in connection with the sharing of costs of the planning, engineering, permitting and siting of facilities associated with the Greater Boston transmission projects. Eversource Service, a wholly owned service company subsidiary of Eversource Energy, also said that the parties entered into the agreement to document their cooperation and coordination in building the Greater Boston transmission projects, which are planned reliability upgrades to satisfy certain New England regional reliability needs.

Eversource Service noted that it is making the filing with FERC out of an abundance of caution, in the event that FERC considers the cost sharing agreement to be jurisdictional, and also requires the filing of the agreement.

Of the Greater Boston Transmission Project, Eversource Service noted that ISO-NE in 2010 identified reliability and transmission security issues in the Greater Boston area of the New England region, and conducted a study process to re-evaluate potential solutions to those reliability needs. ISO-NE in 2015 identified a set of interstate and intrastate AC transmission upgrades and new transmission facilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, proposed by National Grid and the Eversource Companies as the preferred solution to those regional reliability needs, the company said.

“As a result of the ISO-NE process, the Eversource Companies and National Grid are jointly developing and constructing a series of transmission projects to implement comprehensive improvements to the electrical transmission system in New England,” the company said.

The Greater Boston transmission solutions consist of four portfolios of projects, corresponding to the four sub-areas in the ISO-NE’s Feb. 18, 2015, Greater Boston Preferred Solution presentation to the Planning Advisory Committee:

  • North sub-area: A series of projects to enhance interstate power transfers and to address North sub-area power transfer constraints
  • South sub-area: A series of projects to enhance interstate power transfers and to address reliability issues in South sub-area
  • Western suburbs sub-area: A series of projects to address reliability issues in the Western sub-areas
  • Downtown Boston sub-area: A series of projects to address Downtown Boston limitations

As noted on the companies’ website on “The Greater Boston and New Hampshire Solution,” National Grid and Eversource are teaming up to deliver a set of critical reliability projects in the Greater Boston and southern New Hampshire area. The companies said that their Solution comprises various projects, each with individual merit, which together address the reliability problems identified by ISO-NE, improve the region’s power system, and meet the customer demand for power for years to come. The notable projects are:

  • Merrimack Valley Reliability Project: New overhead 345-kV line in existing transmission rights of way in the towns of Tewksbury, Andover, and Dracut, Mass., and Pelham, Hudson, Windham, and Londonderry, N.H.
  • Woburn to Wakefield Line: New 345-kV underground cable in the towns of Woburn, Winchester, Stoneham, and Wakefield, Mass.
  • Mystic to Woburn Line: New 115-kV underground cable in the towns of Woburn, Winchester, Medford, Somerville, Boston (Charlestown), and Everett, Mass.

A National Grid spokesperson told TransmissionHub in February that about 40 projects that are part of the overall solution have an estimated total cost of about $740m.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.