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New England states chasing federal funding for electricity transmission line

(The Center Square) – A coalition of New England states are working together in an effort to chase federal funding to support multi-state electricity transmission infrastructure.

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont have filed concept papers with the U.S. Department of Energy, outlining the necessary steps to secure federal funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The group is coordinating efforts in conjunction with ISO New England, which serves as the main power generator for the region.

The group is in the beginning stages of evaluating potential projects, focusing on growing the offshore wind industry and importing hydroelectric power from Canada.

“New England is pioneering the innovative partnerships, technologies, and approaches the nation needs to modernize the transmission system, unlock clean energy, and ensure price stability and affordability by providing reliable clean electricity in the face of fossil fuel-driven price spikes and climate disruption,” Commissioner Katie Dykes of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said in a release.

The documents, which were filed recently with the federal department, call for innovative electricity transmission proposals designed to grow the region’s supply of clean, reliable and affordable energy.

According to the release, the group seeks to spur economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind, facilitate a regional and balanced approach to power transmission in an effort to lower electricity costs, and harden reliability in the power grid.

Another facet of the group’s focus, according to the release, it to quell concerns that offshore “point-to-point interconnections” to land would exhaust available onshore transmission infrastructure.

In order for the states to reach energy policy mandates, according to the release, federal support is needed to make the grid investment a reality and not pass on the cost to consumers.

Fighting climate change is a task that requires big solutions. That’s why we’re collaborating with other New England states to jointly pursue investments that transition the regional grid to clean energy. We can make great advances in addressing climate change, together. pic.twitter.com/Kxe6rSQt5o— Governor Dan McKee (@GovDanMcKee) January 25, 2023

By utilizing a regional approach, according to the release, transmission infrastructure investments will be optimized and allow for cost savings and more winter reliability for residents and businesses.

As the region is situated at the endpoint of a natural gas pipeline system already under stress by consumers, residents of those states face unique winter energy patterns. The plan is designed, according to the release, to reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels, protect electricity customers from the volatile fossil fuel market, and grasp diverse energy sources.

There is potential for more than 14 gigawatts of offshore wind in federal waters off New England, the release says. The states are using a Joint State Innovation Partnership for Offshore Wind. The Energy Department plans to award $250 million for selected projects aimed at innovative approaches to transmission, storage, and distribution infrastructure to enhance resilience and reliability throughout the power grid.

Vermont’s Department of Public Services, according to the release, developed a plan that drew support from other states in the region for an additional federal energy program for the New England Clean Energy Powerlink, a 1,000-megawatt transmission line between the state and Quebec, Canada. The project would use hydroelectricity and allow New England to send offshore wind energy to Canada.

“Rhode Island is proud to be part of this collaboration with the other New England states, to take part in this opportunity to pool our resources, work together and jointly pursue transmission investments,” Christopher Kearns said in the release. He’s the Rhode Island interim state energy commissioner. “This will help our regional New England grid make the transition to clean energy, reduce our collective carbon emissions significantly, and deliver a major victory in our fight against climate change.”

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