Companies tout renewable energy projects for Massachusetts

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Some entrepreneurs hoping to provide renewable energy to Massachusetts electricity customers are touting their projects in the run-up to the decision, expected in late January, about which company could be chosen to help provide clean power to the Bay State.

The stakes are potentially huge for the dozens of companies that have submitted proposals, some of which are proposing major infrastructure projects that would carry Canadian electricity produced by wind or hydro power across Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine to reach Massachusetts.

While there are a variety of projects vying to be chosen by Massachusetts in the current round, even if they're not selected, it's likely there will other calls in the future for projects to provide more renewable power to southern New England.

Last week, the backers of New Hampshire's Northern Pass project, which would run a 192-mile transmission line from Pittsburg on the Canadian border to Deerfield, carrying enough hydropower to about a million homes, were optimistic.

Despite a vow of continued pressure from people who object to the Northern Pass project, the backer of the project Eversource expects to receive final regulatory approval in both the United States and Canada, allowing it to begin construction in April. Northern Pass claims it will be ready to transmit power by 2020.

"We feel we have submitted the most mature project," said Eversource spokeswoman Kaitlyn Woods. "We are confident it will be selected."

National Grid, the backer of the project known as the Granite State Power Link, is running online advertisements promoting its project. The company announced last week it had filed for a presidential permit, the first regulatory step needed for it to bring 1,200 megawatts of power to southern New England.

The project would be built alongside an existing line that enters the United States at Norton, Vermont, and connect with an upgraded power line at Monroe, New Hampshire. It's unclear when that project could be ready for construction.

"I think we're well positioned to win because ultimately we are the best options for customers," said National Grid's Joe Rossignoli. In addition to the Granite State Power Link, National Grid is backing a smaller project that would bring power from new wind and solar projects from upstate New York to Massachusetts.

Another proposed project, the New England Clean Power Link, would carry power 154 miles down Lake Champlain from the Canadian border and into Vermont, where it would connect to the grid and feed Massachusetts' demand for clean power. The project is backed by TDI-New England.

"In addition to meeting all the Commonwealth's requirements, TDI-NE believes the New England Clean Power Link is the right turn-key project for Massachusetts," said Donald Jessome, president of TDI-New England. "Our project is fully permitted, enjoys wide spread support up and down the line and offers a fixed price bid."

In 2016, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed a law requiring the state to solicit contracts for 1,200 megawatts of renewable energy, including hydropower, onshore wind and solar power, along with at least 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy.

Last summer, dozens of companies filed proposals — large and small — to meet that goal for the onshore supply of power. The timeline calls for the "selection of projects for negotiation" on Jan. 25 with the contracts being approved by late April.

In Maine, the utility Central Maine Power has proposed working with two Canadian energy suppliers to move Canadian electricity along more than 90 miles of existing CMP corridors and 51 miles of newly purchased rights of way in western Maine.

"We think these are the two best ideas," CMP President Sara Burns said last summer when the proposals were released.

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