June 25, 2008

CL & P Details Proposed Power Line Work

By Shawn R. Beals, The Hartford Courant, Conn.

Jun. 25--SUFFIELD -- -- Connecticut Light & Power presented plans to town residents Tuesday night for a $714 million voltage upgrade on transmission lines that would go through East Granby and Suffield, and have an alternate route through Enfield.

Replacing the lines between Bloomfield and Ludlow, Mass., would accommodate growing demand for power, control costs and improve reliability, CL&P spokesman Frank Poirot said.

Existing 115-kilovolt lines would be replaced with 345-kilovolt lines, and no new paths would be added, Poirot said.

"This is an area we have to reach in some way to address the growing demand," Poirot said during a presentation for residents at Suffield High School.

Suffield's population has gone up 29 percent since 1990, he said, and the electrical use has risen 36 percent. In Enfield, population has remained level for several years but power demand has been rising by about 1.6 percent year, an increase Poirot called typical.

CL&P hopes to begin construction sometime in 2010 but is only in the beginning phases of the project. Next, they have to apply for approval of the Connecticut Siting Council, which would have up to 12 months to make a decision.

Amanda Carroll, a CL&P siting and permitting official, said the three major environmental benefits of upgrading the lines are improving air quality by eliminating the need for new power plants, providing access to renewable energy from northern New England and creating diverse animal and plant habitats.

"It would be irresponsible of us to not upgrade," Poirot said. "It would put electrical reliability at risk."

Town resident David Blackaby said the existing right-of-way area is next to his property on Newgate Road.

"The information was slanted toward what they want to do, not necessarily what the people of Suffield want to do," Blackaby said. He has already offered input to the company and hopes to "get the power lines moved as far away from housing as possible."

Poirot said the project can be altered based on input from property owners and town residents.

"It's no big deal," said Joe Wysocki of Colson Street. He can see some of the towers along the line from his home. "It's not going to change the footprint."

There will be two additional information sessions, one tonight at East Granby High School from 6 to 8 p.m. and Thursday at Enfield Street School in Enfield from 7 to 9 p.m.

Contact Shawn R. Beals at [email protected]

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