West

Eversource seeks to build underground lines in Sudbury

Eversource has filed a plan with the state seeking permission to build a new 9-mile electric transmission line underground along an inactive Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority railroad bed between Sudbury and Hudson.

The company submitted its filing to the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board, which has the final say on the project.

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According to the filing, Eversource’s preferred route goes underground for 7.6 miles between the Sudbury and Hudson substations primarily along the MBTA corridor.

The line would start at the Sudbury substation, travel northwest along the MBTA corridor, passing through short sections of Marlborough and Stow before entering Hudson, where it travels underground within public roadways for 1.4 miles.

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The company had previously said its preferred route would use overhead transmission lines along the MBTA corridor. That option is now listed as a variation to the preferred route. The company also includes a 10.5-mile alternative route, which calls for putting all lines underground within public roadways for its entire length.

The state siting board will review the filing and choose a route based on reliability, cost and environmental impact. The public will have additional opportunity to provide comments and feedback during the review process.

Rhiannon D’Angelo, an Eversource spokeswoman, said the company adjusted its route after listening to feedback from the community.

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“The underground route along the MBTA corridor is the least disruptive to the environment and the community,’’ she said.

A citizens’ group, Protect Sudbury, has been working with town, state, and federal officials to fight any plan that calls for underground or
aboveground lines along the MBTA corridor.

They say the project would do irreparable harm by destroying conservation land and wildlife, potentially contaminating the water supply through the use of herbicides, and decimating home values.

Ray Phillips, president of Protect Sudbury, said the new plan is not acceptable.

“From my perspective, I’m still concerned, and our organization holds the position that we don’t want any siting on the MBTA right of way,’’ he said. “This kicks off the whole process, which will be a lengthy legal process. We’ve been prepared for it and the town is prepared for it.’’

The Sudbury Board of Selectmen recently hired more legal counsel, Jeffrey Bernstein of Waltham-based BCK Law. Bernstein, former director of the Massachusetts Legislative Energy Development Caucus, has experience representing municipalities, at the Energy Facilities Siting Board.

“Selectmen wanted to make certain that they had the best legal team possible so we can hit the ground running when Eversource files with the siting board,” Sudbury Town Manager Melissa Rodrigues said in a news release.

Rodrigues said the town has spent more than $100,000 in legal fees “to start preparing for what will be a complicated and expensive legal process.”

According to Eversource, a recent study by ISO-New England, the independent system operator for New England, concluded that there are inadequate transmission resources to serve the electricity needs in the Greater Boston/Metro West and surrounding area. This new line would help address those needs, the company says.

Jennifer Fenn Lefferts can be reached at jflefferts@yahoo.com.
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