Northeast Renewable Link (NRL)

The Proposed Northeast Renewable Link is a new, 600-megawatt capacity powerline proposed to run alongside an existing line from a substation in Nassau, N.Y., through five Berkshire County towns. It would pass through Stephentown, N.Y., Hancock, Lanesborough, Cheshire, Dalton and Hinsdale, where it will end at the substation there. This route is very similar to the previously proposed route for the Northeast Energy Direct fracked natural gas pipeline proposed by Kinder Morgan. See a map here.
It is a proposal from Grid America (a National Grid company) and Citizens’ Energy.
This project is one of many proposed under the Requests for Proposals (RFP) from Massachusetts under the Act to Promote Energy Diversity (section 83D). Many of these projects propose way too much forest destruction and habitat loss and should be rejected. Though we very much support expansion of clean energy, we at BEAT (parent organization of No Fracked Gas in Mass) would like to see more locally produced energy with storage close to where the energy will be used. For example, one proposal, Revolution Wind, would build off-shore wind with battery storage near the biggest consumption area (Boston) in the state.
As outlined in the Massachusetts Act to Promote Energy Diversity, the 83D request for proposals calls for a total of 9.45 TW/hours per year of clean energy.
QUESTIONS
Although we support clean energy initiatives, the idea of expanded right-of-ways for long-range power lines from generation projects in New York does raise further questions:

 

— What specific energy facilities in NY would be serving this line?
There are some existing hydro facilities that would be serving, and five not-yet built wind and solar facilities. Reps from Grid America were not yet ready to name the facilities at their Open Houses – 11/13 in Lanesborough, MA and 11/14 in Stephentown, NY.

— Are they already constructed?
The hydro projects are, the other facilities are still in the permitting process and are not yet built.

— Is there any guarantee that it will only carry capacity from clean energy, or will it be general grid energy (which includes the new CPV gas plant, etc)?
Essentially, yes. These new transmission lines are being built specifically to bring energy from designated clean energy sources to the substation in Hinsdale, MA.

— Will this project remain in the existing right of way (ROW) (not require expansion of the ROW)?
As of 11/14, the representatives from Grid America and their marketing team stated at the Stephentown Open House that, as far as they can tell at this point, this project will not require expansion of the existing right of ways, except maybe a small  area near the Hinsdale substation.

— Who will pay for this project?
Electric customers in Massachusetts. Though passing through two towns in New York, it is in response to the call for more clean energy in Massachusetts. The financial burden will be borne by Massachusetts electric rate payers. The Grid America team at the 11/14 Open House in Stephentown could not answer questions on how rates will be determined (i.e. Will it be for the energy coming into the lines in the Alps substation in Nassau, NY, or for the energy arriving at the Hinsdale substation in MA? Paying for energy at the beginning of the line means ratepayers are on the hook for energy lost in transmission for those 23 miles.)

— If all clean energy, shouldn’t NY be holding on to that capacity and cutting back on fossil fuel generation?

— Shouldn’t MA be generating its own clean energy closer to the areas of most use?

Further questions from residents of Stephentown and Nassau New York voiced at the 11/14 Open House included concerns for impacts to landowners abutting the right of way. Because of proximity, some will have the power lines nearly directly over their houses, possible power line towers in or near driveways and wells, concern over safety of their wells due to blasting or drilling associated with erecting the new towers, etc.


Northeast Renewable Link representatives will be holding an open house in Hinsdale, MA in early December – date to be determined.

Contact Northeast Renewable Link:
PHONE
855-617-6375 (most likely will get voicemail)
*call back came within one day from Peter Kavanaugh – 508-951-8396

EMAIL
The official email address on their site has been returned as undeliverable. The email address for Peter Kavanaugh, a spokesperson on the “Outreach Team” for the NRL, is more likely to get through:
pkavanaugh@hilltoppublicsolutions.com

WEBSITE
» Northeast Renewable Link website