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National Grid Plans New Transmission Line Through Seven Towns
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:36AM / Tuesday, July 25, 2017
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Peter Kavanaugh, from National Grid, told the Lanesborough Board of Selectmen about the project on Monday.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — National Grid is looking to run another power line, mostly along the existing rights of way where lines exist already, through seven local towns.
 
Peter Kavanaugh, from National Grid, said the plan is to run a 600-megawatt line through Nassau and Stephentown, N.Y., cross the border into Hancock, Lanesborough, Cheshire, Dalton, and end at an existing substation in Hinsdale. The path is nearly identical to the one proposed by Kinder Morgan's Northeast Energy Direct Project, which would have been a natural gas pipeline if it hadn't been shelved.
 
"The primary source will be wind in upstate New York. That may be supplemented by a small amount of hydro also in New York. The wind will be a combination of projects that already exist as well as future projects," said Kavanaugh.
 
The Northeast Renewable Link Transmission project is still a ways out with construction not expected until 2020. Kavanaugh told the Board of Selectmen about it on Monday, days before the project is to be included in the state's clean energy request for proposals.
 
"More than of the 23-mile line will be located within the existing transmission corridor. That would count Nassau, Stephentown, all of Hancock and about two-thirds in Lanesborough. The last third in Lanesborough and pretty much in Cheshire, Dalton, and Hinsdale is likely to require some expansion," Kavanaugh said.
 
"This is not something where we are a couple months away from breaking ground. We are still six months from even starting the permitting process."
 
The project is one of two being proposed. The Granite State Power Link project is in the eastern part of the state and looks to bring in power from Canada. The Berkshire connection will bring renewable power from upstate New York. 
 
"Neither project is dependent on each other, but it will be bid as a package," Kavanaugh said.
 
A National Grid subsidiary is partnering with the nonprofit Citizens Energy Corp. for the project. It is not known how much it will cost and Kavanaugh said those estimates aren't yet known as engineering and design are still very early on. But, he said assessors are in the process of trying to determine what type of tax revenue to provide the town. 
 
"We have gone to [towns during other projects] and provided a baseline revenue estimate for the new line and the new structure that looks out for a four-year timeline. What we have pledged to do is to provide that as a baseline that we are willing to guarantee regardless of what happens with construction," Kavanaugh said.
 
"We will not come back to you in 2023 and say, by the way, we thought it would cost X amount to install Lanesborough but it actually cost Y, so we are going to bump those revenue projections back 30 percent and you have to deal with it."
 
The new lines are expected to run on one side or the other of the existing power lines and will be designed with the same type of structures. The line will follow that through most of Lanesborough with some expansion. Kavanaugh said the next step is to talk to the abuttors of the properties as well as starting conversations with landowners in the expansion areas. 
 
"I know all of the issues that have been here in the last few years with the pipelines and everything else. I do want to stress that this is all voluntary and these conversations are just starting," he said.
 
The Pittsfield Sportsmen's Club owns land on both sides of the existing lines and was asked to provide access to National Grid for surveying.
 
"We did get a letter saying that you guys want to do some surveying. We don't want anybody up there doing surveying without knowing. We don't want any trees cut. We want to protect as much as we can," President Travis Delratez said.
 
Kavanaugh told the sportsmen's club officials that he can provide a map of what the company is looking at right now. The project is a ways off and the conversations are just starting. Kavanaugh said there are plans to go through a public engagement process as well as connecting with town officials and landowners.
 
"At this point, we haven't filed the project, we have not moved forward with public permitting so nothing has been mandated. This is a good faith effort to make sure we are getting out there and providing information," Kavanaugh said.
 
The company has been meeting with officials from all of the towns along the route. Last week, he met with Cheshire Selectmen about it.
 
Permitting for the project would start in late 2019 or early 2020 and construction would start in 2020. Over 14 months of construction, Kavanaugh estimates some 450 jobs will be created on the Massachusetts side and he's working with local labor unions to secure those workers.
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