by Timothy McQuiston Vermont Business Magazine New Hampshire regulators rejected on February 1 a permit for the winning bid by Eversource on a 1,200 megawatt renewable energy contract for the state of Massachusetts. While Eversource has vowed to appeal, losing bidders have renewed their efforts to capture the lucrative contract, which could have a profound economic impact on Vermont. Now, Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) and National Grid's GridAmerica Holdings, Inc, announced that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and a services agreement to support the Granite State Power Link (GSPL) project. GSPL is a proposed renewable energy project that will transmit new Canadian wind energy to New England via a new overhead transmission line located in an expanded existing right-of-way owned by VETCO, a VELCO managed company.
Last week TDI-New England and its under-Lake Champlain project announced it was still interested, with Governor Phil Scott lending his support. Meanwhile, Northeast Kingdom legislators want the governor to throw his support behind the GSPL because of the significant economic impact it would have on the NEK. They sent a letter to Scott February 9 urging him to get behind the project (see below).
Either project would be a windfall for Vermont. But other losing bidders will also try and get back in the game. Emera Inc already is going ahead with permits for its subsea transmission line called Atlantic Link to deliver clean energy from Atlantic Canada to Massachusetts.
The addition of VELCO to the effort is on top of the memorandum of understanding National Grid had signed with NEK represents last December, more than a month before the Massachusetts selection of Eversource on January 25.
"VELCO is pleased to extend our working relationship with National Grid by joining them on this regional project," said Tom Dunn, President and CEO of VELCO. "If the Granite State Power Link project is selected for the Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP, our contract ensures that an established Vermont company with a proven track record for completing complex electric transmission projects on time and on budget will be leading the project management and land acquisition effort within Vermont. VELCO's responsibility is to provide safe, reliable electricity and to serve the public good consistent with Vermont values. This agreement advances VELCO's vision to help Vermont create a clean energy future."
By expanding an existing transmission right-of-way, GSPL will construct a new 59-mile overhead transmission line with 53 miles built adjacent to VELCO's existing transmission line in the Northeast Kingdom. Another six miles will be built in Littleton and Monroe, New Hampshire, with converter stations on each end of the line.
Under the signed agreements, Vermont Transco LLC, acting through VELCO as its manager, will collaborate as a contractor with GridAmerica to permit and construct the Granite State Power Link. This will create economic opportunity, as well as deliver long-term rate relief to Vermont electricity customers of nearly $3 million per year for 40 years.
"This partnership is very important in supporting local Vermont jobs and reducing our electric rates for the foreseeable future," said State Senator Jane Kitchel, Caledonia District. "Granite State Power Link continues to listen to our needs and develop solutions that will yield positive results for Vermont."
"VELCO is a trusted name in Vermont and tapping their local expertise furthers our commitment to ensuring a strong result for all Vermonters now and into the future," said Will Hazelip, Vice President of U.S. Business Development, National Grid Ventures. "We are confident that this collaboration will deliver on our promises to build a clean energy project that minimizes environmental impact, and maximizes economic, wildlife and recreational opportunities, while creating jobs and reducing energy costs in Vermont."
GSPL offers, at a minimum, the following direct benefits to Vermont as a result of the Granite State Power Link:
Over $450 million in local and state property tax revenue.
$20 million for job creation and retention, and economic development in the Northeast Kingdom via revolving loan funds and economic and community development grants through a partnership with the Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA).
$487 million in rate reductions within the first ten years of the project.
$3 million a year for 40 years in rate relief through payments to Vermont Transco LLC, a company structured to return earnings to Vermont.
Millions of dollars in low income energy assistance from Citizens Energy.
Enhanced wildlife, habitat and recreational opportunities.
GSPL has earned support from nearly 50 percent of the Vermont route communities (with one host community agreement signed), state legislators representing route communities in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, the NVDA, and the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers. The project also has the support of over two dozen New Hampshire state legislators, three New Hampshire towns, a Grafton County Commissioner, the Central New Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 104 and 490, and scores of residents.
The project is currently in permitting and, once approved, is scheduled to begin construction in mid-2020 with an end of year 2022 in-service date.
About Granite State Power Link
The Granite State Power Link (GSPL), a project co-developed by National Grid and Citizens Energy, will deliver 1,200 MW of clean, affordable Canadian wind power to New England. Staying within or adjacent to existing transmission corridors, GSPL will build approximately 59 miles of new HVDC (direct current) transmission line from a new converter station in northern Vermont to a new converter station in Monroe, New Hampshire. From Monroe, the interconnection point, approximately 109 miles of existing AC (alternating current) transmission line will be upgraded to a new switching station in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Visit www.GraniteStatePowerLink.com for more about GSPL.
About National Grid Ventures
National Grid Ventures is a separate unit within National Grid plc that operates a broad renewable energy portfolio across the US and UK-focused on accelerating a clean energy transition. NGV's partnership with GSPL is being conducted through GridAmerica Holdings Inc., a non-regulated indirect subsidiary of National Grid plc. For more information, please visit nationalgrid.com/ventures.
Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) provides reliable, cost effective and environmentally sound electric transmission services to in-state electric distribution companies. Formed in 1956 when local utilities established the nation's first "transmission only" company to access clean hydro power from New York, VELCO's system now includes: 738 miles of transmission lines, 55 substations, switching stations and terminal facilities, and 13,000 acres of rights-of-way; and a 1,500-mile fiber optic network that monitors and controls the electric system and serves as a key link for Vermonters' high-speed data internet access. Ownership is shared by the state's 17 distribution utilities and a public benefits corporation, with a for-profit structure that returns value to our shareholders, their customers and to every Vermonter. For more information please visit our website at www.velco.com.
About Vermont Transco, LLC
Vermont Transco is the limited liability corporation that owns Vermont's high-voltage electric transmission system. VT Transco provides serve to the utilities that directly serve Vermont homes and businesses, as well as a small area of New Hampshire, and interconnects with New England's regional grid. VELCO manages the Vermont Transco LLC system, and in that capacity, operates and maintains Vermont's electric transmission system, as it has since 1956.
VETCO is a wholly owned subsidiary of VELCO that was organized for the purpose of constructing and operating the Vermont portion of the Phase I Québec-New England HVDC Interconnection, a high-voltage direct current transmission line transmitting power from Canada to Vermont and other New England states. The creation and ownership of VETCO was authorized by the Vermont Public Utility Commission in 1982.
Source: Rutland, VT and Waltham, MA - (February 12, 2018): Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) and GridAmerica Holdings, Inc