Department of Public Service announces agreement with TDI-New England on 1,000 megawatt powerline

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Department of Public Service announces agreement with TDI-New England on 1,000 megawatt powerline

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 10:05am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine An underwater power line from Canada could mean upwards of $720 million for Vermont electric ratepayers and to help clean up Lake Champlain, among other environmental and economic goals, if it comes to fruition. The $1.2 billion project has a 2019 target for completion. Commissioner Christopher Recchia and the Vermont Department of Public Service announced today it has reached agreement with TDI-New England in its application for a Certificate of Public Good for the 1,000 MW transmission line to be constructed under Lake Champlain and underground from Benson to Ludlow. The powerline will run from the Quebec-Vermont line nearly 100 miles under Lake Champlain before moving across the state to Ludlow.

“We have always expressed our willingness to do our part to support projects that help meet the regional need for more clean and reliable power” said Christopher Recchia, Commissioner of the Department of Public Service. “This is likely one of several possible projects we’ll be reviewing, and this agreement today ensures, that if this project is constructed and runs through Vermont, Vermonters would benefit significantly. This agreement provides significant benefits for ratepayers, and helps advance a potential transmission source of stable renewable energy supply that can mitigate price volatility and supply constraints in the New England power market.”

Benefits secured by the Department and other agencies in negotiations would total more than $720 Million over the 40 year life of the project, payable to Vermont for clean energy, clean water, and ratepayer benefits.  The Agreement includes:

  • $202 million paid to the state Clean Water Fund and dedicated to Lake Champlain watershed clean-up, paid at a rate of $5 million annually for the 40-year life of the project after two initial $1 million payments.
  • $61 million paid to a newly created Lake Champlain Enhancement and Restoration Trust Fund to support habitat restoration and recreational improvements in the Lake Champlain watershed, paid at a rate of $1.5 million annually for the 40-year life of the project after an initial $1 million payment.
  • $109 million paid to Vermont’s Clean Energy Development Fund for the 40-year life of the project to promote renewable generation in Vermont, paid at a rate of $5 million annually during the first 20 years of the life of the project, with the remainder paid out annually during the subsequent 20 years.
  • $136 million in ratepayer benefits.

    ·       $212 million in lease payments to VTrans for the 40-year life of the project for use of state highway and railroad rights-of-way paid at a rate starting at $4 million annually and escalating annually starting in year 11 of the lease.

    ·       Transfer of dedicated fiber-optic cable to the State of Vermont to improve telecommunications and broadband in Vermont.

    ·       Approval to bury the Clean Power Link within certain roads in the towns of Alburgh, Benson, and Ludlow. 

    ·       Clarification of certain benefits to these host towns such as substantial new property tax revenue and road improvements.

    ·       Funding for a new state-operated boat ramp in Alburgh.

    ·       Important conditions protecting the environment and natural history of Vermont, such as water quality monitoring plans, aquatic invasive species protection plans, habitat protection plans, and a commitment to study and avoid archaeological sites.

“This project is one of several being proposed across New England to deliver hydropower from Canada to the Southern New England States,” Recchia said.  “Although we reached agreement on this project, whether and when it gets built still remains to be seen because there are still many outstanding factors.” Recchia stated.

Additional benefits include an option for Vermont Utilities to purchase up to 200MW of transmission capacity at a later date, should that be needed or desired to meet Vermont’s energy goals.  Use of fiber optic lines that need to be installed as part of the project, with “dark” fiber being dedicated to the Public Service Department’s broadband initiative, would potentially help improve broadband penetration as well. Building on prior agreements, TDI-NE commits to only transmitting renewable power through these lines.

“I am appreciative of the work begun by VELCO and the Conservation Law Foundation in their earlier agreements reached with TDI-NE. I am glad we’ve been able to work across agencies in the state to substantially build on that foundation to the benefit of Vermont and Vermont ratepayers for projects of this type” Recchia added.

Although the Public Service Department and Agency of Natural Resources have reached this agreement, the Public Service Board must approve this agreement and grant a Certificate of Public Good for it to become effective.  Action by the Public Service Board is expected later this fall.

TDI New England Chief Executive Officer Donald Jessome said, “We are extremely pleased to have reached agreements with these important state agencies, host towns, and Green Mountain Power as we continue to develop the New England Clean Power Link. We support the ambitious environmental and energy objectives of the State of Vermont, and the public benefit funds we have agreed to will support a cleaner environment, a stronger economy, and an improved tax base benefiting all Vermonters.”

Ansley Bloomer of Renewable Energy Vermont said, "Renewable Energy Vermont is appreciative of the committed support provided to the Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF) through the recently announced agreement between the State of Vermont and TDI New England regarding the New England Clean Power Link transmission line. The CEDF provides assistance to thousands of Vermonters to aid in the installation of small solar, solar hot water, wind and farm methane systems. This program has typically leveraged five to six dollars for every one dollar expended while helping Vermonters save money on their energy costs, and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions and grow local jobs and businesses."

These agreements supplement the settlements previously reached with the Vermont Electric Power Company (December 2014) and the Conservation Law Foundation (June 2015), both of which have been filed with the PSB as part of the state’s 248 siting process.  The agreement with VELCO will result in $136 million in direct ratepayer savings to Vermonters. The CLF agreement covers many of the same issues as the agency agreements concerning the use of renewable power and dedicated benefits that will provide a cleaner environment for Vermont, however the agreements filed with the board on July 17th augment the benefits to Vermont above and beyond the CLF agreement.

TDI stated that the New England Clean Power Link will also deliver more than $305 million in benefits to Vermont through new property and sales tax revenue, as well as hundreds of new construction jobs, and lower electricity costs.  The project will also increase New England’s gross domestic product and eliminate millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year to help the region meet its aggressive climate change goals.

Finally, the Agreement provides Vermont utilities the opportunity to purchase up to 200 MW of transmission service on the project in later years to supply Vermonters with additional access to clean, low carbon, renewable power. 

Jessome said, “With these agreements, the New England Clean Power Link is one step closer to providing clean, lower-cost, renewable electricity for Vermont and New England.”

About the New England Clean Power Link

The New England Clean Power Link is a proposed 154-mile underwater and underground transmission line that will deliver 1,000 MW of clean, lower-cost hydroelectricity to the Vermont and New England market. The line is being developed with private-sector financing by TDI New England and will originate at the U.S.-Canadian border and travel approximately 97 miles underwater down Lake Champlain to Benson, Vermont, and then be buried along town and state road and railroad rights-of-way or on land owned by TDI New England for approximately 57 miles to a new converter station to be built in Ludlow, Vermont. The project is expected to be in service in 2019, at a cost of approximately $1.2 billion.

About TDI New England

TDI New England is a Blackstone Portfolio Company. New York based Blackstone is a global leader in alternative asset management with more than $330 billion currently under management. The TDI New England team is made up of the same leadership team currently developing the Champlain Hudson Power Express in New York State. That project has received all major federal and state permits required to proceed. The developers have a strong track record of working in partnership with local elected officials, community groups, and other stakeholders to develop projects that meet unique energy needs of growing economies, while minimizing local impacts. More information on the company and the project are available at www.necplink.com.

Source: VTDPS. TDI. 7.21.2015