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Industry News

Connecticut Hunts for Transmission Solution

LCG, October 12, 2004--ISO New England, Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating Company jointly filed an interim report with the Connecticut Siting Council on October 8th regarding a proposed Middletown-Norwalk transmission upgrade that is part of a multi-phase plan to upgrade Connecticut's power grid. The analysis concludes that one of the three, underground alternatives will not result in a workable solution to meet Southwest Connecticut's grid problems. Furthermore, analyses of the other two alternatives are "producing discouraging results."

Transmission studies to resolve Connecticut's problems have been underway for some time. The transmission upgrade includes running the last 24 miles of the Middletown-Norwalk line underground into Norwalk. The alternative that has been deemed unworkable is a design that uses multiple static synchronous compensators (STATCOMs) at several locations. Studies performed by the technical staff from ISO New England, Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating Company have concluded that the use of such a large number of STATCOMs in such a small geographic area is undesirably complex and could have a negative impact on the system. The technical staff, known as the Reliability and Operability Committee, is continuing to evaluate alternatives.

A related, key issue is who pays the incremental costs - estimated to be at least $250 million - for underground rather than above ground cables. In a previous filing, ISO New England cautioned that the increased costs are unlikely to qualify for regional cost support and that Connecticut residents and businesses may be responsible for such costs. The City of Norwalk and its residents desire the underground design. Who pays and how quickly the upgrade design is approved, installed and allowed to commence operations is difficult to determine, especially when one considers Connecticut's track record with another controversial transmission project, the Cross Sound Cable.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which last June applied pressure to enable the Cross Sound Cable to commence commercial operations, has shown an interest in identifying a solution to Connecticut's latest problem. The Commission has scheduled a technical conference for October 13 in Hartford, Connecticut to discuss infrastructure issues for the State of Connecticut and its neighbors. The conference objective is to explore proposals for electric transmission improvements, their impact on reliability, the cost for such improvements and the allocation of costs. The agenda includes: Pat Wood, III, Chairman, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; S. Derek Phelps, Executive Director, Connecticut Siting Council; David H. Boguslawski, Vice President, Transmission Business, Northeast Utilities Service Company; Stephen G. Whitley, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, ISO New England; and Jeffrey A. Donohue, President and CEO, Transenergie U.S. Ltd.

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