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Transmission Commission backs ISO-NE study of alternative transmission line

April 07, 2010
CONCORD — A study to look at electricity transmission in the North Country could come from a Regional source. Members of the North Country Transmission Commission voted to send a letter to ISO-New England backing a proposal that it pay for a study of an alternative way to get "green" electricity out of Cos County, that would not send it south to market through Whitefield and Littleton.

Commission members took this action after hearing a short presentation by Stephen Conant, who is senior vice president for strategic development for Anbaric Transmission of Wakefield, Mass., an independent privately held transmission company.

Typically, ISO-New England commissions and pays for three studies a year as part of its task in managing comprehensive, regional planning processes.

Mr. Conant described the principals, partners and investors behind Anbaric as developing "some of the most successful and innovative independent transmission projects in the country," able to solve grid problems where easy solutions are not obvious.

Anbaric is flexible in its approach to project financing, allowing it to develop projects that expand the electric grid in ways that have not done before, he explained.

Anbaric's principals are intrigued by the idea that renewable energy from the North Country could install larger transmission lines than those that Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) that has called for when outlining the brand-new Cos Loop that it envisions could be installed to run from Whitefield, to Berlin-Gorham, to Northumberland to Whitefield. Northeast Utilities-PSNH engineer Joe Staszowski has said that the transmission line running south of the Cos Loop below Moore Dam in Littleton could only accommodate another 400 megawatt (MW) without substantial and costly upgrades.

In its "outside the box" thinking, Mr. Conant said, Anbaric would like to pursue the idea of running a transmission line east to Rumford, Me., that would be have a far larger capacity than 400 MW to allow more renewable energy projects to be developed, maximizing the County's "green" potential.

A paper written by Anbaric's principals — Meeting New England's Renewable Energy Targets: A Practical Three-Part Plan — that includes a conceptual map that depicts a transmission line from Cos to Rumford is available on Anbaric's website www.anbarictransmission.com.

In a previously warned executive session, Commission members and certain regular observers-participants selected a consultant who will be paid up to $200,000 of federal stimulus (ARRA) funds to come up with a rationale for a recommended way to fund a new $150 million 400 MW Cos Loop transmission line. Six consultants or consulting firms responded to a Request for Proposals. Because the contract is $25,000 or more, it must go before Governor and Council, likely at its April 28 meeting. The Chairman, Senator Martha Fuller Clark of Portsmouth said that the selection process used had been impartial and fair and that the discussion had been "rich and productive" with the majority able to support selecting the consultant firm that had received the top score.

The next North Country Transmission Commission meeting is scheduled at 1 p.m. on June 25. Rep. Bill Remick of Lancaster and county treasurer Fred King of Colebrook pitched the idea to Sen. Fuller Clark that the meeting should be held in Cos County, and she readily agreed that this would be a good idea. A location has not yet been announced, however.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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