July 20, 2015
Regional power grid administrator ISO New England is planning $4.8 billion in transmission infrastructure upgrades that will be underway or complete by 2023, bringing the total investment in the reliability of the system to $12 billion since 2002.
Transmission project upgrades are a relatively new way to improve electricity usage in New England, having been seen 15 years ago as an alternative to building new power plants to make sure electric supply meets demand. Transmission projects provide better linkages between large power generators and large power users.
New England has 210 transmission reliability projects proposed, planned or under construction, along with the 25 projects already in service. Another five still are in the conceptual phase while 14 proposed projects have been cancelled.
The major transmission projects proposed for Connecticut are the $357 million plan for Greater Hartford and Central Connecticut and the $430 million plan for Southwest Connecticut. Both projects were approved in April but have not yet advanced to the construction phase.
The main goal of these transmission projects is to improve power grid reliability, although they can put downward pressure on electricity rates by allowing the grid to operate more efficiently. However, the utilities that install them pass along the cost to ratepayers.
These developments do not include transmission projects designed to bring more renewable energy into New England, such as Eversource Energy’s $1 billion proposal to build a transmission line in New Hampshire to tap into Canadian hydropower.