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A look at the proposed power line under Lake Champlain - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

A look at the proposed power line under Lake Champlain

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

A proposed power line under Lake Champlain could bring renewable energy to thousands of Vermonters.

The new power line will tap into the power grid in Canada and run 154 miles south to Ludlow. There, a new converter would be built that could distribute power to homes across New England.

Supporters say the project will import clean, reliable power into the U.S. -- while promoting economic development -- and combating climate change. TDI New England is seeking permits from both the federal government and the state of Vermont for a power line that the company says could save consumers 2 billion in energy costs.

It's called the New England Clean Power link -- a line that transmits clean electricity. The privately funded power system would charge New England power companies to use the line and distribute electricity to their customers. The project manager, Josh Bagnato, says the initiative would bring cheaper power to Vermonters.

“Vermont could save about 100 million dollars in the first 10 years,” Bagnato said. "It will drive down the average cost of power across New England which will drive down the average cost of power for Vermonters."

TDI New England is paying for the project. The company filed for a Presidential Permit last month, asking the feds to approve the plan.

"It's a permit that is really required to transport energy across an international boundary,” Bagnato explained.

The approval process will take two years as the US Department of Energy weighs the environmental impacts. The source of the renewable power still needs to be decided upon. That is an uncertainty that concerns the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), a group that will study the project and release its own independent findings.

"It's not clear where the power is coming from. What's the source of the power that's coming in or how much of that power is actually needed in Vermont,” said Sandy Levine, an attorney for the CLF. “First and foremost, what would be the impact to Lake Champlain? Are their impacts to the water quality?”

With New England governors expressing a strong desire to minimize the usage of fossil fuels, the clean power link would provide more power through the use of renewable sources of energy like hydrothermal.

“In order to get the climate change and the greenhouse gas reduction that the New England region wants, there is a belief that there needs to be more hydroelectricity and more clean energy in general,” Bagnato said.

The price tag is 1.2 billion to develop and build the clean power link, but Bagnato claims it's a worthwhile investment for the region. If approved the project would not be complete until 2019.

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