A Vermont company seeking to bring Canadian electricity south has the right idea. A New Hampshire company with the same goal should take note.
TDI New England's plan to build a 1,000 megawatt transmission line south through the state has been approved by Vermont utility regulators. It still needs federal permits before it can begin building a system that will bring hydropower through Massachusetts and southern New England but it seems assured of getting them.
TDI cleared its path to success by agreeing to put down 100 miles of cable from the Canadian border along the bottom of Lake Champlain, with the remaining 50 miles of cable buried in public rights of way until the line reaches Ludlow, where it links up to the New England power grid. With no power lines marring the landscape, the proposal earned support from environmentalists and utility regulators and no real opposition.
In contrast, Northern Pass in New Hampshire has grudgingly agreed to bury 52 miles of its proposed 192-mile transmission project from the Canadian border. This has not appeased environmental groups like the Forest Society and Appalachian Mountain Club, the latter, the nation's oldest conservation group, state officials or residents. Northern Pass officials assert that it will be too expensive to do what TDI is doing in Vermont, but it may not get its project at all if doesn't follow suit.
Both projects will lower energy costs and use a cleaner energy source than fossil fuels, but the New Hampshire project will stall until Northern Pass agrees to change its approach. TDI has additionally agreed to fund $263 million for Lake Champlain cleanup projects and $109 million for renewable energy projects in Vermont. Northern Pass can at least agree to hide its power lines from view.