Why do we need the Vermont Green Line?
New England is at an energy crossroads. Electricity customers pay among the highest electricity prices in the continental U.S. and demand for affordable clean electricity is exceeding supply. All of the New England States are united in their desire to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. To keep up with present needs and future growth, that transition requires an electric grid capable of delivering large amounts of clean energy. With generating plants retiring and with legislatively mandated clean energy goals, there is an immediate need for cost-effective transmission projects.
Vermont Green Line Basics
What is the Vermont Green Line project?
Vermont Green Line is a proposed underground and underwater electric transmission project proposed by the Vermont Green Line Devco LLC to deliver clean, reliable and affordable power to New England by harnessing wind supply in New York, firmed up by hydropower. The project will deliver 400 megawatts of clean energy to New England.
Why is this project necessary?
New England is at an energy crossroads. Electricity customers pay among the highest electricity prices in the continental U.S. and demand for affordable clean electricity is exceeding supply. In addition, many existing power plants are retiring. Each state requires utilities to include renewable energy as an increasing percentage of electricity used, meaning that more renewable energy will be needed in the future. New England doesn’t have enough renewable energy capacity to meet the requirements and utilities must import renewables. The Vermont Green Line will allow this import, combining wind and hydro renewable energy. Additionally, New York has wind resources that have not been fully developed in part because of transmission constraints. The Vermont Green Line will enable new wind development in northern New York.
How much power is 400 megawatts?
One megawatt (MW) can supply power to approximately 600 homes during the coldest winter and hottest summer days (known as “peak demand periods”). Using that baseline, the 400 MW from Vermont Green Line is estimated to supply power to approximately 240,000 homes during peak demand.
What are the major components of this project?
Vermont Green Line will consist of two high-voltage direct current (HVDC) converter stations connected by an approximately 60-mile underground and underwater electric transmission cable. The proposed project will connect to the existing power grid in Beekmantown, New York, travel about six miles under public roadways to Lake Champlain, then about 40 miles under Lake Champlain, and then travel approximately 13 miles underground to a substation in New Haven, Vermont. All land cables will be buried, mostly under public roadways.
What is HVDC?
High-voltage direct current or HVDC is an efficient technology for transmitting large amounts of electricity over long distances and is effective in bringing renewables into the grid. It can be thought of as a power super highway to bring large amounts of power to market.
What does this project cost?
Approximately $600 million will be invested to complete this infrastructure project.
How is this project being funded?
The Vermont Green Line Devco LLC will look to commercialize the project through competitive clean energy procurements. If selected, and pending federal and state regulatory approval, construction and operations will be financed based on the contracts or tariffs that result.
Has National Grid Ventures completed any similar projects?
Yes, National Grid Ventures has extensive experience in all components of this project in the US and in Europe. In the US, National Grid installed two Cape Cod to Nantucket submarine cables and the subsea interconnection for the Block Island Wind Farm. Underground, buried land cable installation is a regular part of the National Grid business. National Grid also built the first HVDC transmission system in the US, which imports hydropower from Canada to New England. In Europe, National Grid Ventures built and operates two undersea interconnectors, with another four in construction.
How can I stay updated on project progress?
Project updates will be provided regularly through the project website and Twitter (@GreenLineIA), as well as periodic newspaper advertisements, direct mail communications, community information sessions and other public outreach efforts.
Will there be any community meetings on the project?
Yes. National Grid Ventures is fully committed to providing the community with the opportunity to see our plans and comment on them. Community meetings and open houses will be held in the coming months in all of the communities along the route.
Who should I contact with questions?
What is the exact route the construction will follow?
Routing details are still being finalized but the preferred cable route will interconnect with the existing power grid at a new converter station in Beekmantown, New York, travel under Lake Champlain, and connect to another new converter station in New Haven, Vermont. Land cables will be buried, generally under public roadways.
Will this project cause any power outages or disruptions?
No customer power outages or disruptions are anticipated.
How will traffic be affected during and after construction?
Like with many construction projects, we anticipate some traffic impact along the route in public roadways. Traffic management plans will be instituted to minimize disruptions and the project team will work with state and local officials to mitigate any impacts and inconveniences while construction takes place. We will communicate any traffic disruptions via our website on the “Project News” page and through letters and fliers. Once the project is finished, the roadway traffic will return to its normal pattern without interruption from this project.
Will the equipment be visible?
During construction, the public likely will see crews, equipment and materials. This will be staged and secured accordingly to allow for safe, efficient construction. Once the work is complete, all cabling will be underground or underwater and will not be visible. There will be two converter stations where the project interconnects with the existing power grid – one in New York and one in Vermont – that are likely to be at least partially visible. The team will work closely with state and local officials, project neighbors and other stakeholders to design the converter stations to blend in as much as possible with the local character and landscape. Additionally, where appropriate, the project team will look to place vegetation to screen visible project components.
How will you address public safety concerns both during construction and operation?
Safety of the public and of those working on the Project is of paramount importance. Part of the planning for safety will include proper traffic controls and protection around any open excavation. All excavations will be covered at the end of every workday. The contractor will be required to have special safety personnel who will be on-site to give another layer of supervision. Vermont Green Line personnel will coordinate with the towns and appropriate public safety officials along the construction route.
Will the equipment and construction process be noisy?
As is the case with most construction projects, there will be some amount of sound during the active construction phase. We will work with state and local officials to determine appropriate work hours that minimize sound and other temporary impacts for nearby residents and businesses.
How will this project impact electricity rates?
The Vermont Green Line is expected to directly reduce the cost that electricity customers pay in New England by about $500 million over the life of the project.
How will the Vermont Green Line project benefit electricity customers in New England?
There is currently not enough renewable energy in New England to meet the increasing need. Development of wind projects in upstate New York is limited by the capacity of existing transmission lines. The project will provide this needed west-to-east transmission that will allow the development of new wind projects for export to New England. In addition, the project will enable access to hydroelectric power to “firm” the wind resources when the wind is not blowing. The project is expected to reduce the cost to produce electricity in New England by about $900 million during its first 20 years of service. In addition, the Vermont Green Line will reduce the costs of procuring renewable energy in the region by about another billion dollars.
Does this project support economic development?
Yes. The project provides both the physical and financial paths to support new wind development in northern New York, further stimulating the local and state economies. In addition, the project and the wind farms it enables will increase the tax base and bring jobs to the region. Read more in the Benefits section of our website.
What is the environmental impact of this project?
The primary long-term environmental impact is one of great benefit: clean, renewable energy. Any disruptions will be temporary and happen during the construction phase. The route and the underground/underwater installation was selected to minimize impacts on the environment and the public. During construction, great care will be taken to minimize any potential impacts. Protecting the environment is paramount. Much of the permitting of this project is environmental in nature and attempts to minimize impacts on wetlands, rare, threatened and endangered species, and historic and archeological resources. Throughout the permitting and construction of the project, we will stay in close consultation with stakeholders, and federal, state and local agencies to ensure that we comply with all laws and regulations that protect our environmental resources. We are keenly focused on developing and operating safe, reliable and sustainable energy infrastructure to meet the needs of our customers and communities.
What kind of impact will this project have on the fishing/marine or tourism industry?
The Vermont Green Line understands and respects that many peoples’ livelihoods depend on the waters through which this project will travel. As National Grid Ventures has done with other similar, successful transmission projects, we will work closely with many key local organizations and individuals in the fisheries, marine or tourism industries prior to and during construction. Our goal is to facilitate open dialogue, ensuring our activities are coordinated with key stakeholders in all project components.
Will this project bring about Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMF) impacts?
New York State strictly enforces limits on EMF produced by new electric transmission facilities. These limits are based on conservative assessments of public health requirements undertaken by the New York Public Service Commission. The limits are: an electric field strength of no greater than 1.6 kV per meter measured at one meter (3 feet) above the center line for the buried HVAC cables and at the fence line of the converter station and a magnetic field strength over background fields of no greater than 200 milliGauss measured at one meter above the centerline of the HVDC cables. The Vermont Green Line will comply with these limits in both states. Evidence shows that some health concerns attributed to EMFs from electric power systems is specific to AC fields, at 60 Hz, and does not apply to DC fields, like the one proposed for the Vermont Green Line. The World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have not identified any health risks for humans or animals. For more information on EMF, visit http://www.emfs.info/. HVDC-specific information can be found at http://www.emfs.info/static-fields/.
Will the converter stations be noisy?
The town of New Haven’s noise ordinance is 70 dBa (A-weighted decibels); the Vermont Green Line has committed to a considerably lower dBa for the converter station—35 to 40 dBa. Through the use of proper design and sound dampening equipment and materials, the converter stations will comply with applicable sound standards and sound impact guidelines in both Vermont and New York and will not produce loud sounds while operating.