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Land-based transmission project cheaper than undersea cable, study says

An independent study commissioned by regional energy regulator ISO New England has concluded that upgrading and adding land-based transmission lines to address a looming power shortage in northeastern Massachusetts would be about $250 million cheaper than burying a power cable under the Atlantic Ocean.

ISO New England is considering both options — the underwater proposal from New Hampshire Transmission and the terrestrial project from National Grid and Northeast Utilities — and plans to pick one early next year. The cost analysis, performed by Electrical Consultants Inc. of Billings, Mont., does not guarantee selection of the on-land project but would appear to make it the front-runner.


“The next step is for stakeholders to provide their input on the alternatives,” said Marcia Blomberg, a spokeswoman for ISO New England. “Early next year we expect to select the most cost-effective and reliable transmission solution.”

National Grid and Northeast Utilities said the study validates their longstanding claim to the less expensive project. Electrical Consultants pegged the cost of their proposal at $733 million, compared to $991 million for the SeaLink cable proposed by New Hampshire Transmission.

But New Hampshire Transmission held to its contention that SeaLink is actually cheaper when factoring in nonconstruction costs, such as future maintenance and utility rates during buildout.

Callum Borchers

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.