The estimated $1.1bn Granite State Power Link (GSPL) and $400m Northeast Renewable Link (NRL) are in the early stages of development, and National Grid plans to submit permit applications for each project in the near future, Will Hazelip, vice president, National Grid, told TransmissionHub.
For the NRL, the two primary permits involve the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board and the New York State Public Service Commission, he said, adding, “[W]e’ll submit applications for both of those next year.”
The environmental studies to support those applications are ongoing, “so we’ve made very good progress since beginning these projects last year, in terms of gaining site access to perform those environmental studies,” he said, adding that many of the studies are already complete.
Hazelip also said that National Grid is on track to apply for the Presidential permit before the end of the year for the GSPL, “and then we’ll make applications with both the states of New Hampshire and Vermont for permits in each of those states next year.”
As with the NRL, the company is “making very good progress in terms of the environmental studies needed to support those applications, as well as the design and engineering,” he said.
A primary initiative in the United States for National Grid involves the GSPL and NRL, which are both partnered with generation developers to offer supply options to Massachusetts in response to the request for proposals (RFP) that was issued in March and that aims to procure 9.45 terrawatt hours annually of clean energy, Hazelip said.
The GSPL is designed to transmit 1,200 MW from Québec into the New England transmission system, while the NRL is designed to transmit 600 MW of energy from New York to Massachusetts, he noted.
According to a project fact sheet, the GSPL would involve building about 59 miles of new high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line from a new converter station in northern Vermont to a new converter station in Monroe, N.H. The project would require an interconnection upgrade to about 109 miles of existing alternating current (AC) transmission lines from Monroe to a new switching station in Londonderry, N.H. The fact sheet also noted that the entire project and interconnect would stay within, or adjacent to, existing transmission corridors.
On the need for the project, the fact sheet noted that New England’s energy constraints, driven by retiring fossil fuel generating plants, require immediate and cost-effective transmission solutions that would transport clean energy to benefit customers now and in the future.
According to the NRL’s website, that project would involve building a 23-mile, 345-kV AC transmission line from National Grid’s Alps substation in Nassau, N.Y., to Eversource Energy’s (NYSE:ES) Berkshire substation in Hinsdale, Mass. The line – which would stay within, or adjacent to, existing transmission corridors – would help provide a much-needed source of clean energy into the New England energy grid, helping to lower regional energy costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while promoting economic development in New York and Massachusetts, according to the site.
Hazelip noted that Citizens Energy would have a 10% stake in each project, adding, “We’ve worked with them for the last couple of years and their model is really to support programs for low-income families in the areas where the projects are developed.”
He continued, “These projects require quite a bit of community support, local support, and it’s really a great way … to engage those communities with the projects. [Citizens Energy would] use a portion of their profits that they earn from their ownership stakes in the projects to support programs related to energy for low-income families, and those programs will be designed specifically to meet the particular needs that each community has.”
Noting that the “projects are about bringing clean energy from where it’s produced to where it’s needed – where it’s going to be used,” Hazelip said that the Massachusetts RFP is the “most immediate manifestation or opportunity generated by that need.”
He continued, “The goal shared by most of the states of New England is reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, and in order to do that, I think most people agree that the electric energy system needs to be fully decarbonized, and it has to happen well before 2050 to meet those goals.”
The Massachusetts RFP represents about 18% of the load in Massachusetts, he said, adding that whether the projects are selected in the RFP or not, National Grid believes that there is a significant demand.
The company is “working to ensure that the evaluation process that gets employed is Number 1, transparent, and Number 2, fairly and accurately accounts for the attributes of the generation, the energy that’s being bid into the RFP process,” he said.
Hazelip said he commends Massachusetts lawmakers for passing the legislation – and the governor for enacting it – that allowed for the RFP that is underway, as well as an RFP that involves offshore wind energy, “as long-term contracts are instrumental in ensuring that new, clean generation can be financed.”
Discussing challenges related to transmission development, Hazelip said that while local support is extremely important, “it really starts with a smart design.”
He continued, “[W]hen we developed the concept for these projects over a year-and-a-half ago, we started out with [we] want to make the most use of existing infrastructure [to] really minimize to the greatest extent possible environmental impact [and] visual impact.”
For the GSPL, for instance, he said that “we’re really just expanding the existing right of way (ROW) between the U.S./Canada border in northern New Hampshire for about 60 miles and then the remaining 110 miles of the project is reconductoring two 230-kV lines to 345-kV.”
He said that similarly, while the NRL would be a new circuit, it would parallel an existing 345-kV circuit and an existing ROW for the majority of the 23 miles.
“It’s great when you can … design projects that really minimize the need to open up new corridors and so that’s exactly what we’ve done here,” he said.
Follow TransmissionHub for more coverage of the Massachusetts RFP.