By Morgan True, VTDigger.org
The Conservation Law Foundation has agreed not to oppose a 154-mile high-voltage transmission cable that would run beneath Lake Champlain in exchange for an increase the value of a benefits package the developer offered the state.
The agreement was filed Friday, June 12, with the Public Service Board as part of TDI New England’s effort to obtain a Certificate of Public Good for the proposed $1.2 billion transmission line. The cables would carry hydroelectric and wind power generated in Canada to metropolitan areas of the United States.
The company has agreed to pay a minimum of $283.5 million over the 40-year lifespan of the project for Lake Champlain phosphorus cleanup, habitat restoration and recreational improvements — $121.5 million more than was originally proposed.
Chris Killian, Vermont director of CLF, called the increase “substantial” and said the agreement better defines how the money will be spent, which “dramatically” enhances the public benefit of the project.
TDI will make two upfront payments of $1 million to the state, according to Killian.
In a separate agreement, TDI has also agreed to pay the state’s transmission utility, Vermont Electric Power Co. (VELCO), $2.5 million annually over 40 years. That money is expected to be used to reduce electric rates, according to state officials.
TDI New England anticipates permitting will take until mid-2016, with major construction beginning in 2018. If the New England Clean Energy Link moves forward, then the 1,000-megawatt transmission line is anticipated to be carrying power by 2019.