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Granite State Power Link unveils $20m economic development plan

Union Leader Correspondent

January 09. 2018 11:35PM
Jon Freeman, left, president of the Northern Community Investment Corporation, joined Joseph Rossignoli, project leader for Granite State Power Link, for a ceremony in Littleton on Tuesday during which the men signed a memorandum of understanding between their organizations. Should the proposed GSPL transmission project go into operation in 2022, GSPL would annually provide $500,000 for 40 years into a fund administered by the NCIC for economic development in Grafton, Merrimack and Hillsborough counties. (John Koziol/Correspondent)

LITTLETON — Under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed Tuesday, the developers of Granite State Power Link, which would bring 1,200 megawatts of renewable power from Canada into New England, agreed to provide $500,000 annually for forty years to promote economic activity in the North Country.

The memorandum of understanding is contingent upon the project, which is being co-developed by Citizens Energy and also GridAmerica Holdings Inc., which is an affiliate of National Grid.

The proposed project would go into operation in late 2022, when revenues would trigger the payment, said Joseph Rossignoli, project leader for GSPL, during a ceremony Tuesday at the Paul J. McGoldrick Learning Center in Littleton.

Under the MOU, the GSPL fund for the economic development would be administered by the Northern Community Investment Corporation.

With offices in Lancaster and in St. Johnsbury, Vt., the NCIC develops “lending solutions and coaching services based on individual business needs and supports community leaders with job-based solutions including industrial infrastructure, agriculture and tourism development” in New Hampshire’s Carroll, Coos and Grafton counties and also in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

The GSPL fund would primarily benefit economic efforts in the host communities of Littleton and Monroe, where, respectively, the GSPL would cross the Connecticut River from Vermont, and where GSPL proposes to build what Rossignoli previously said would be a “nine-figure” direct-current (DC) converter station.

Secondary beneficiaries would be the 22 New Hampshire communities in which National Grid lines would be upgraded, while tertiary beneficiaries are the communities of Grafton, Merrimack and Hillsborough counties.

Among other things, the GSPL fund could be used for job creation/retention; work-force training; and possibly the “match” requirement of some federal grant programs.

NCIC President Jon Freeman, who signed the MOU on behalf of his nonprofit corporation, said it was “truly transformative.”

The MOU, he said, “brings new capacity and a new multiplier that we have never seen before,” adding that the commitment from GSPL is significant for NCIC. The NCIC was honored, he said, to be chosen to “deliver these services.”

The GSPL is one of several bidders on a State of Massachusetts RFP for renewable energy; another is Eversource’s Northern Pass.

Starting in Pittsburg and ending in Deerfield, Northern Pass, in partnership with Hydro-Quebec, wants to bring 1,090 megawatts of Canadian electricity to New England via a 192-mile route through New Hampshire.

Approximately one-third of the Northern Pass line would be buried, most of it through the White Mountain National Forest. Critics want all of the Northern Pass buried, however, pointing out that it would also entail the construction of new, taller towers, some in new rights of way, that would harm property values and the state’s tourism industry.

GSPL, on the other hand, is proposing a 115-mile-long route, with only five miles of new lines that would be built between Littleton and Monroe, in existing rights-of-way, said Rossignoli. He did say that there would be a “re-conductering” along the remaining route to Londonderry to accommodate the new DC converter station in Monroe.

Although he has previously declined to make comparisons between GSPL and Northern Pass, Rossignoli did so on Tuesday.

He noted that the environmental impact of the former was much less than that of the latter. He argued that, overall — even with Eversource’s Forward NH initiative, which would provide $200 million for economic development statewide once Northern Pass was approved — what the GSPL offered was a better deal for the state.

When asked where the GSPL power would come from, Rossignoli said 40 percent of capacity would be dedicated to a windfarm under development, while other Canadian energy providers, including Hydro-Quebec, could provide portions of the remainder.

Energy General News Littleton

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