T&D World Magazine

Northeast Utilities Presents Plan to Strengthen Region’s Power Grid

To improve electric reliability and strengthen the interstate transfer of electricity, Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) and Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECO) – companies of the Northeast Utilities System – presented a plan to local officials to upgrade transmission capabilities in western Massachusetts and north central Connecticut areas. The new project will also provide enhanced access to cleaner, competitively priced energy sources.

As part of a group of transmission projects called New England East-West Solution (NEEWS), the Greater Springfield Reliability Project is designed to strengthen the region’s power grid by creating a “beltway” for electricity to move more reliably around the Springfield area. In addition, it provides a higher-capacity transfer of power between Connecticut and Massachusetts, and ensures the reliable flow of power from east to west. Finally, together with the other NEEWS projects, it will address reliability needs in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

“We are working to modernize our infrastructure to help secure the energy future of the region for years to come,” said David H. Boguslawski, Northeast Utilities vice president of Transmission Strategy & Operations. “A stronger, more reliable electric grid will provide greater access to new power sources and provide New England with the infrastructure that is critical to the region’s economic health.”

The primary route under consideration would be located on existing rights-of-way between substations in Ludlow, MA, and Bloomfield, CT. With an estimated cost of $714 million, the Greater Springfield Reliability project calls for new 345-kV lines, reconstruction of significant portions of the existing 115-kV transmission lines in the area, construction of a new switching station and substantial expansion of substations along the route.

Local review of the proposal is the first step in the review process for the transmission upgrade project. The companies will obtain the local feedback and file formal project applications with the Connecticut Siting Council in Connecticut and the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board, in the fall of 2008.

To facilitate resident participation in this review process, the companies are conducting a series of open house meetings to provide information and receive meaningful feedback from municipal officials, residents and businesses. The meetings will be held in June, July and August.

The companies will continue to gather input from local leaders and citizens as they begin the state review and approval process. Construction for the project is scheduled to begin in 2010.

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