Vermont’s Public Service Board has issued siting approval for the 1,000-megawatt, US$1.2-billion Clean Power Link, a new transmission line under Lake Champlain that will carry Canadian hydro- and wind-generated electricity 150 miles from the U.S.-Canada border to Ludlow, Vermont.
The line is expected to open in 2019 and produce US$700 million in lease payments, environmental protections for the lake, and other public benefits over its 40-year operating life.
“This is more than just hydro,” said Donald Jessome, CEO of private developer TDI New England. “We’ve connected into the Quebec transmission system for many reasons. There are large hydro resources available to ship. There are also wind developments. There’s potential from upstate New York and Ontario, where there are other resources that could be connected.”
The company “has already found seven Canadian and New England electric suppliers that have expressed interest in transmitting 3,200 megawatts of power over the new transmission line,” Greentech reports. “Any supplier has to meet TDI’s criteria, which include the requirement that the resource moved across the Clean Power Link helps New England states meet their greenhouse gas reduction goals.”
The line, which will use state-of-the-art high-voltage direct current (HVDC), is about reliability as well as carbon reductions, Tweed explains. “New England could face retirements of more than 8,000 megawatts of non-gas-fired generation capacity by 2020, according to the region’s independent system operator,” she writes. “If all of that capacity were to retire, ISO-NE has estimated that an additional 6,300 megawatts of capacity will be needed. Energy from the Clean Power Link will help to diversify a regional fuel supply that is heavily dependent on natural gas, an issue that comes into sharp focus when prices spike during cold snaps.”
Canada’s consul-general in Boston, ex-New Brunswick Premier David Alward, identified the energy file as his top trade development priority in an interview last week with CBC.
“The work that we are doing [is] to see hydro electricity from Canada, whether that is Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, be able to light and heat homes and run businesses competitively in the U.S. and provide for a better environmental contribution, as well,” he said.
With the amount of venture capital available in the Boston area, “New England and the U.S. is a great place to land softly,” he added. “For small and medium-sized companies, what a great spot to land first in the U.S., where there are common cultures, common time zones, common language, and quite frankly, the world’s largest market.”
The Clean Power Link announcement came on the same day Gov. Pete Shumlin called on the Vermont legislature to pull state pension funds out of coal stocks, and to divest from ExxonMobil over its role in promoting climate denial. “The urgency for us to take every sensible action against climate change has never been greater,” Shumlin said in his annual State of the State address, and “Vermont should not wait to rid ourselves of ExxonMobil stock.”