Andover Townsman

Power line project seeks to upgrade region's electrical grid

By Bill Kirk bkirk@andovertownsman.com | Posted: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 1:30 am

A proposal by National Grid to build 85-foot tall, high-tension power line towers through Andover will go before the Board of Selectmen next week for an informational hearing.

Last week, about 20 people, mostly residents who live near the existing power line corridor in the far, western corner of town, asked questions and learned about the project at an open house hosted by National Grid at Old Town Hall.

Company spokeswoman Jackie Barry said the new towers will be built within the utility’s 520-foot-wide right-of-way that runs through less than 1 mile of town. The right-of-way already has a number of power line towers.

As part of the project, one set of existing towers will be torn down and replaced by a new set, which will be shifted slightly to make way for the new structures. A sixth set of towers will be erected in the right-of-way to carry the new line — a 345-kilovolt power line that is needed to upgrade the region’s electrical grid. 

The new towers, which will be steel poles, will carry three power lines and two, smaller shield wires. They are part of a larger project in the Northeast called the “Greater Boston and New Hampshire Solution.” It is comprised of three, separate projects — the Merrimack Valley Reliability Project. That involves the new, overhead 345-kV line running from New Hampshire, starting in Londonderry through Windham, Hudson and Pelham, before entering Massachusetts in Dracut and continuing through Andover and Tewksbury, where it will end at a substation.

The other parts of the overall project include new underground 345-kV lines from Woburn to Wakefield and another from Everett to Woburn.

ISO New England, the manager of the region’s power grid, selected National Grid and Eversource Energy as the companies responsible for building the new power lines.

“This is a win-win situation for Massachusetts residents and businesses since our solution will help to ensure the future reliability of the region’s electrical grid, while maximizing the project’s economic benefits,” Rudy Wynter, president of National Grid’s Transmission Business, said in a release. “We’re proud that ISO New England has designated ours as its preferred solution, and we look forward to working with local communities to make this proposal a reality.”

Barry said the Mass. Department of Public Utilities is responsible for overseeing the project in the commonwealth.

She said the permitting process allows people to intervene if they object to the new power lines. Company officials said they hoped to be able to work with neighbors who may have concerns based on diminished views or other reasons.

“There are opportunities for communities or individuals to request the right to intervene in the state siting processes,” Barry said. “We hope it doesn’t come to that. We hope we can come to solutions.”

The project is on the Board of Selectmen’s agenda for Monday night. The meeting starts at 7 in the third-floor conference room of the Town Offices Building on Bartlet Street.