(Opinion) Twin States Energy Link is a win for New Hampshire
The project will add much-needed transmission capacity to the region
New Hampshire’s clean energy industry is a rapidly growing component of our state’s economy and a critical path to the renewable energy that is vital in our fight against climate change. New England must act to be a leader in clean energy infrastructure that will serve to diversify the region’s energy sources. To secure a strong foundation for future green energy projects, we need to embrace important system upgrades to deliver clean power to major load centers.
The project deserving of support is the Twin States Clean Energy Link, developed by National Grid and nonprofit Citizens Energy. As the U.S. Department of Energy considers the several transmission projects competing for federal support under the bipartisan infrastructure bill, me and countless others in New Hampshire urge Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and the Grid Deployment Office to embrace this winwin for New England which will, in turn, boost our clean energy industry right here at home.
As chair of the NH Commission on Offshore Wind and Port Development and a member of the BOEM Gulf of Maine Task Force, I am particularly excited about Twin States, because its bidirectional transmission capability means that future offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine will be able to utilize the line to deliver clean energy to market, including export of domestic power to Canada during times of surplus.
As we prepare for lease auctions in the waters off New Hampshire and Maine as soon as late 2024, having clean energy transmission capabilities is more critical than ever to support this growing industry. Winds right here off the New Hampshire Seacoast are some of the most reliable on the Atlantic coast, as they are steady year-round. Investments into offshore wind and port development in the Gulf of Maine are predicted to total tens of billions of dollars in the coming decades. Twin States can play a key role in helping to maximize how we embrace and encourage what really can be boundless opportunity in our state’s green economy.
An advantage of Twin States is that, unlike other projects that have come before our state’s siting authorities, new cables will be buried on state roadways, and the line will utilize the existing transmission corridor and towers that have been in service for almost a century for the roughly 110-mile stretch in New Hampshire from Monroe to Londonderry. As it reaches southern New Hampshire, a new substation in Londonderry will help deliver the clean power directly into a major hub for the regional grid, enabling affordable, clean energy to be distributed across all six New England states. The result? Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 1.5 million metric tons per year and savings of billions of dollars for customers over the first twelve years of operation alone. The project can do this all while protecting the natural beauty of our state, which, as we know, is essential.
National Grid and Citizens Energy have also proposed a benefits package, to the host states of Vermont and New Hampshire, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, to go towards pursuing community-identified needs and projects in areas such as clean energy development, efficiency and weatherization, among others.
The program will also focus on workforce development and technical education to help prepare New Hampshire workers for green energy jobs. Representatives of the projects have been discussing these benefits with town and local governments, legislators and more, seeking input as they work to advance partnerships towards these goals, especially as they seek to put these dollars to work to benefit environmental justice and Justice 40 communities, as outlined as priorities by the Biden administration.
Another core priority for President Biden, and for me, is maximizing union labor on these game-changing infrastructure projects.
I’m very pleased that National Grid has made a commitment to use International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers labor to build Twin States. They are among the most skilled workers in the world, and this partnership will ensure the jobs created by this project are kept here in New Hampshire to the greatest extent possible.
In short, Twin States is a win for New Hampshire and all of New England. It will have a lasting impact on our state, provide badly needed relief and cost savings for energy customers, and help accelerate our embrace of New Hampshire’s clean energy future and, in turn, a greener grid for all of New England.
State Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, represents District 4, which includes Barrington, Dover, Rollinsford and Somersworth.