Quebec wants to sell more of its enormous amounts of hydropower to the Northeast U.S., which wants more renewable energy. The problem is that the electricity has to get from there to here and nobody wants big, ugly power lines near them – “near” being defined as anything you might see on a clear day if you stand on the highest local hilltop.
New Hampshire rejected a gigawatt line because a portion cut through some pristine woodlands. Maine seemed to accept an alternative but last-minute opposition of the perfect-is-the-enemy-of-good variety might block it with a statewide ballot initiative. Both states also fretted that Massachusetts was benefiting from the lines, as if we weren’t all in the same power grid and as if we don’t benefit from natural-gas pipelines that run through Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, owners of gas-fired power plants are delighted.
Now New York has just said yes to a very similar project, called the Champlain Hudson Power Express, carrying 1,200 megawatts down from Quebec to NYC. We’ll see if it actually happens.
New England line opponents might say that the New York proposal is different because much of it will run underwater (Lake Champlain and the Hudson River) instead of requiring trees to be cut down. But I’m sure the New England opponents would have freaked out if the lines had been proposed under Moosehead Lake or the Connecticut River.
Maybe HydroQuebec should charge up big batteries and truck them over the border, carrying electricity like perishable goods. The Japanese are building a ship to do just that: Carry electricity to land from an offshore wind farm!
This energy may be renewable, but it is not green. Hydro-Quebec has flooded a watershed in the James Bay Region larger than New England, and the rotting vegetation is creating methane releases that are contributing to climate change.
Also, according to Hydro-Quebec’s own statements that are available online, toxic methylmercury being released into the environment from the Rupert River Dam system will remain in the ecosystem for approximately the next 20 years, and is further magnified up the food chain, including in humans.
May the odds be always in our favor.
Yes, it is imperfect. This is the real world we live in. Blocking it helps keep intact alternatives that are more imperfect.
Are the natural-gas pipelines that run through Massachusetts visible from miles away? I don’t think the comparison holds.
The lines running under the waterways will, presumably be HVDC. Not clear if that’s what was proposed for the NH and ME overhead projects.
Why not trench and bury HVDC lines down the median of I-91 from Quebec to, say, Vernon, VT where the decommissioned nuclear plant already has AC lines, and put a DC/AC station there?
Yes, the overhead plans are & were HVDC – the only choice for moving lots of power long distances efficiently.
You are ” really sure” that opponents would have freaked out over a line under the Connecticut River. Really sure?.
For those of us who opposed this giant electric cord for ten years+ with the focus on creating a income stream to fuel the stock prices, no regard for the residents or reasonable alternatives, the science guy needs to do a little more research about the green nature of this power.