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US DOE to Issue Draft Environmental Impact Statement on Renewable Transmission Project, Says Northeast Utilities

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has posted a target date of December on its website to issue its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Northern Pass transmission project, Leon Olivier, executive vice president and COO of Northeast Utilities (NYSE:NU) said on May 2 during the company’s 1Q14 earnings call.

Once it is issued, DOE will accept public comments before issuing a final EIS, he said, adding that once the company receives the draft EIS, it will be in a position to file its application with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee.

“We continue to expect final approval of the project in 2015, and completion in the second half of 2017,” Olivier said.

According to TransmissionHub data, the project would involve 187 miles of 300-kV DC and 40 miles of 345-kV AC transmission lines and would bring renewable energy from Quebec into New Hampshire to satisfy the need for additional renewable energy in New England. FERC approved Northern Pass' transmission service agreement in February 2011. 

Earlier this year, DOE indicated that its draft EIS will cover the company’s recommendations of the route as well as various potential alternative sections, Olivier said. DOE recently released a summary of the comments that it has received on the project and has released its list of alternative routes that it has identified for analysis. “We support looking at alternative sections of the route and are pleased DOE is looking at these alternatives at this time,” he said.

Olivier also referenced the company’s New England East-West Solution family of projects, noting that Northeast Utilities finished the Greater Springfield Reliability Project last fall on schedule and about 6 percent under budget.

According to TransmissionHub data, the Greater Springfield Reliability Project is a 39-mile, 345-kV transmission line that begins in North Bloomfield, Conn., and ends in Ludlow, Mass. The project originally cost $718 million, but was completed under budget at $675 million. Construction of the project was completed in November 2013. The project involved 35 miles of 345 kV and 4 miles of 115-kV lines. The project will ensure reliability and reduce energy costs and includes three major substations and two switching stations.

Of the Interstate Reliability Project, Olivier noted that the company began construction on the project in March after receiving all required permits.

“We will build the approximately 40-mile Connecticut section of the project, and National Grid [USA] will build the Rhode Island and Massachusetts sections,” he said, adding that Northeast Utilities’ section should be completed in the fall of 2015.

The only outstanding permit remaining on the National Grid section is from the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board. All sections of the project are expected to be completed by the end of 2015, he added.

According to TransmissionHub data, the Interstate Reliability Project is a 75-mile, 345-kV transmission line that begins in Millbury, Mass., and ends at Card Street, Conn.

The National Grid portion of the project will begin in Millbury, and travel south through Sutton, Northbridge, Uxbridge and Millville in the vicinity of Route 146 into North Smithfield, R.I. It will then travel west to Burrillville, R.I., and into Connecticut where it will connect to a Northeast Utilities line at Killingly.

The Northeast Utilities project is a 38-mile, 345-kV transmission line that begins in Killingly and ends at Card Street, Conn.

Olivier also discussed the Greater Hartford Central Connecticut Reliability Project, noting that the company expects ISO New England will identify a series of solutions this summer to remedy current and future overload conditions that exist today or will emerge in the near future across central and western Connecticut.

“We expect to invest about $300m in those solutions, and we will be able to provide you with a more definitive figure once ISO New England identifies the necessary grid enhancements,” he said.

Northeast Utilities reported 1Q14 earnings of $236 million, or 74 cents per share, compared with earnings of $228.1 million, or 72 cents per share, in 1Q13. Excluding integration costs of $5.8 million in 2014 and $1.8 million in 2013, the company earned $241.8 million, or 76 cents per share, in 1Q14, compared with earnings of $229.9 million, or 73 cents per share, in 1Q13.

This article was originally published on TransmissionHub and was republished with permision.

Lead image: Transmission lines via Shutterstock

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