The state’s largest electric utility last week unveiled a $47 million underground transmission line proposal designed to shore up grid reliability across southwest Connecticut.
Connecticut Light & Power Co. (CL&P) seeks to construct a 1.5-mile, 115,000-volt underground transmission cable contained within the city of Stamford that would connect the Glenbrook substation on Lincoln Avenue to the South End substation on Manhattan Street, the company announced Jan. 2.
The project, which has been in the works “for at least five years,” would likely create hundreds of direct jobs and would add to the city’s tax revenues, said Frank Poirot, a spokesman for CL&P.
CL&P, which is a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities Co. Inc., said it would apply to the Connecticut Siting Council in the first quarter of 2013 for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need to construct and operate the new transmission line. If approved, construction on the project is projected to begin in the first quarter of 2014 and to be completed by the end of 2014.
The utility will hold a public meeting on the proposal Jan. 8 at the Stamford Government Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Poirot said the project was not spurred by outages that resulted from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but by new federal reliability standards that were adopted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2005 in the wake of the 2003 blackout that blanketed the Northeast.
“That was the impetus for this and many other transmission projects that we have around the state,” Poirot said. “We’ve been talking to city officials, including Mayor (Michael) Pavia, since January 2010 about starting to discuss the concept of connecting these two substations and the reaction has been one of complete cooperation.”
The Glenbrook and South End substations are currently served by different transmission lines, Poirot said. He said that by connecting the two, there would be an additional path for electricity to travel should a power plant go offline or should there be a similar grid interruption.
The transmission line would be paid for by consumers across New England, Poirot said. He said that because there is not currently an overhead transmission line connecting the two substations, the cost difference between an overhead and an underground line would be minimal.
“All of the funding for this comes from our customers,” Poirot said. “It’s a sharing of costs as well, so a portion of the costs will be covered by all electric customers in New England because there’s a regional benefit to doing this type of work, and then another portion of the costs will be covered by just Connecticut customers.”
He said the exact formula has not been decided on.
As part of the proposal, CL&P would also develop a traffic mitigation plan to minimize the impacts on local businesses and residents, Poirot said.
Poirot said CL&P worked on an underground transmission project in Stamford as recently as 2008, when the utility built a cable connecting the Glenbrook substation to a substation in Norwalk.
“That was all underground and a long stretch of that was along Route 1,” Poirot said. “Our construction impacts on that project were brief. There are impacts, and we will try to minimize them and accommodate everyone.”