Vermont Approves HVDC to Deliver Canadian Renewables to New England
Vermont’s Public Service Board has issued siting approval for the New England Clean Power Link Transmission Line, which will carry Canadian hydro and wind energy to the Northeast.
The 1,000-megawatt Clean Power Link will run about 150 miles from the U.S.-Canadian border, travel under Lake Champlain, and terminate at a new converter station in Ludlow, Vermont. The project is being built by merchant developer TDI New England and has an estimated cost of $1.2 billion.
The high-voltage direct-current transmission line will connect with Hydro-Québec on the Canadian side, bringing hydropower and also possibly wind power from the province.
“This is more than just hydro,” said Donald Jessome, CEO of 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.”
TDI New England 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. 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.
But the Clean Power Link is not just about carbon-reduction goals; it’s also about reliability. 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. 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.