New England Electrical Grid Improvements
The Completion of the Interstate Reliability Project is providing a new way for cleaner, competitively priced electricity to reach customers in southern New England. Eversource and National Grid partnered on the approximately $483 million project, which included station upgrades and the installation of a new 345-kV transmission line along 75 miles of existing, contiguous rights-of-way in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. These improvements along with the new line will enhance reliable delivery of power to customers throughout New England and strengthen the regional electric grid.
“The Interstate Reliability Project improves the efficiency of the grid by eliminating system bottlenecks and improving the flow of power within our region,” said David Boguslawski, Vice President of Transmission Strategy & Operations at Eversource. “The project also supports the region’s economic growth and environmental goals through greater access to newer, more efficient, and cleaner generating plants.”
By strengthening the backbone of the regional grid, the project delivers environmental benefits such as enabling broader regional access to future renewable energy resources and allowing existing renewable resources to reach previously constrained areas. During construction there was special care and attention given to farmland and critical wildlife habitats. Once the work was complete, the restored rights-of-way added hundreds of acres of important new wildlife habitat that has been shrinking in New England.
“As we look to connect new energy sources, stabilize costs for customers and maintain the reliable service needed to underpin the economic vitality of our communities and our region, a robust, resilient transmission system is a must,” said Rudy Wynter, President and Chief Operating Officer of National Grid’s FERC-regulated Businesses. “The completion of this project marks a major step towards achieving that goal.”
Not only did the completion of the project provide system reliability and environmental benefits, the IRP will also produce millions of dollars of new, annual property tax revenues to 18 municipalities in the three states where the project was constructed. The project began in 2014 and provided employment hundreds on linemen and utility workers.
The completion of the IRP caps off the New England East -West Solution or “NEEWS” – a suite of projects designed to strengthen the reliability of the regional power grid by improving its efficiency and eliminating crippling congestion that can be very costly for customers. Collectively, the NEEWS projects are the largest upgrade to the regional transmission system in many years. During the past 10 years, while the NEEWS projects were being planned, sited and developed, New England experienced an unprecedented wave of power plant retirements, which made these robust, long-term transmission improvements even more important.