Benjamin Storrow's story in E&E News on the challenges faced by the New England Clean Energy Connect project is worth a read. He reports that it would be the third largest supplier of electricity in New England.
But New England Clean Energy Connect's future is far from certain despite years of permitting and nearly a half billion dollars invested. Even if it is ultimately finished, the Project's tortured path makes clear that we're not going to get from here to there in our energy transition if the generation and transmission of renewable energy doesn't get easier.
On the streamlining front, Mr. Storrow reports that the United States Senate may be about to begin debating what can be done about the permitting and litigation challenges faced by renewable energy projects. One can only hope the debate will be atypically short and the outcome meaningful.
Even if Avangrid proves its rights are vested, it still needs to beat back a separate lawsuit challenging its ability to cross state land, as well as appeals to its federal Clean Water Act permit and presidential permit to cross an international boundary. The sheer number of permits and appeals speaks to the difficulties of developing transmission in the U.S. today, said Jeffrey Porter, who leads the environmental practice at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC, a Boston-based law firm. “Across the board, the multiplicity of regulations required and appeals allowable guarantee the amount of time it takes to build the infrastructure we want is going to take longer than the time we have,” Porter said. “Congress needs to look at how to streamline permitting and how do we limit appeals once a permit is in hand.”