State News
June 9, 2015

Environmental study sees little problem with cable under Lake Champlain

The cable would travel 97.3 miles underneath the lake to Benson, then 56.7 miles to Ludlow

By Morgan True, VTDigger.org

The U.S. Department of Energy has released a draft environmental impact study on a development firm’s proposal to run a 154-mile high-voltage transmission cable beneath Lake Champlain. It would carry electricity from Canada to markets in southern New England and is the first project of this size to be reviewed for environmental impact on the lake, according to state officials.

Federal officials recommend allowing the $1.2 billion project proposed by Champlain VT LLC, d.b.a. TDI New England (Transmission Developers, Inc. of Albany, N.Y.), which builds direct-current power transmission systems, to go forward because it would help meet regional energy needs. The draft study also concluded that the environmental impacts of a high-voltage cable’s construction, operation and maintenance would be minimal.

The cable would originate at the U.S.-Canada border and travel approximately 97.3 miles underneath Lake Champlain to Benson, then travel underground along town and state road and railroad rights-of-way for approximately 56.7 miles to a new converter station that would be built in Ludlow.

The underwater portions of the transmission cable would be buried in the bed of Lake Champlain, with the exception of depths greater than 150 feet, in which case the cables would be placed on the lakebed. Construction would rely on horizontal drilling. The project is expected to be in service in 2019, at a cost of approximately $1.2 billion. The line is being developed with private-sector financing by TDI New England.

Public hearings on the findings will be held July 15 in Burlington and July 16 in Rutland. The public can also submit written comment on the project website. The comment period will last until mid-August.

A special Presidential permit is required. The Presidential permit application and draft environmental impact statement can be viewed and public comments can be made at: http://necplinkeis.com. The website states: “Anyone seeking to construct, operate, maintain, or connect an electric transmission facility crossing the borders of the United States must first obtain a Presidential permit issued by DOE under Executive Order (E.O.) 10485, as amended by E.O. 12038.”

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