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Eversource is proposing to construct a new 115-kilovolt (kV) transmission line between Sudbury and Hudson. The new line would run between the Eversource substation in Sudbury, near Buddy Dog on Route 20 and the Hudson Light and Power substation.
In April, 2017, Eversource submitted 3 options to the Energy Facilities Siting Board, referred to as "Project," "Noticed Variation," and "Noticed Alternative."
“The Project” - Underground along the MBTA right of way
“Noticed Variation” - Overhead along the MBTA right of way
Both these options are geographically the same in Sudbury. The only change is whether the lines go underground or overhead. The MBTA right of way runs through historic districts, Sudbury neighborhoods and conservation land in Sudbury, Marlborough, Stow, and Hudson.
“Noticed Alternative” - Under streets all the way from Sudbury to Hudson
The under street option goes from the substation, along Route 20 to Green Hill Road, Old Lancaster Road to Hudson Road and into Hudson.
See below for maps of both routes.
“The Project” (ie underground along the MBTA right of way) will require:
30 foot clear cut the length of the right of way
50 foot clearing every 1500 feet to install splice boxes
Trenching 4 foot wide and 8 feet deep for the duct banks
Major concerns with the underground option include:
- 115kV under access road / future recreational trail (2' off to the side). Is that safe?
- Large-scale tree removal. 30' wide - is that a 'canopy'? 50' wide at every splice box (every quarter mile or so)
- Leaving tree stumps everywhere
- Massive trenching / soil disturbance in sensitive areas and wetlands; potential contamination issues with rail bed
- Will tear a major permanent gash through Sudbury, and alter the character of the town permanently. (Not a shaded path)
- Vegetation management plan remains vague; Eversource has not said it will not use pesticides
- Bridgework based on 'preliminary engineering review'
- Eversource has not earned the benefit of the doubt - once they are in our neighborhoods and wildlife corridors, they are in for good. You only have to turn to what they are doing in South Sudbury, with no notice to the town or residents, where they are upgrading the line.
It’s not just that the underground is or isn’t more damaging environmentally than overhead (trenching, disruption of waterways), it’s that anything on the right of way puts a utility in a protected conservation corridor - a utility with a history ignoring residents’ concerns and skirting local bylaws. There is no need; and if it’s proven there is a need, it needs to go someplace else.
The above ground portion will be built on monopoles 75’ to 105’ tall.
Eversource plans to clear-cut an 82 foot wide swath along the rail bed to accommodate the poles, their anchors, and the range of swing in the wires in windy situations. Trees and everything else in the path will be cleared. (Note: 82 feet wide is the length of a blue whale, or as wide as the Massachusetts Turnpike.) The poles will be anchored in concrete into the ground.
The clear-cut affords room for the height of the poles and the accompanying swing of the wires in windy weather. The clear cut would look something like this, an Eversource right of way in Milford, MA.
Part of the ongoing maintenance of the 82 foot wide clear-cut means regular mowing, trimming and applications of herbicides in order to control (kill) the vegetation below and around the poles, so Eversource technicians can maintain and repair the line. These chemical applications are known to be harmful to humans, wildlife, and of course vegetation.
The under street option has no long term impacts. It will involve traffic disruption during construction. The trenching is still required, but it will be done under existing road. Protect Sudbury has been trying to convince Eversource to consider routing as much of the project under Route 20 as possible as it’s already a utility corridor. Eversource instead chose a route that starts on Route 20 but then onto Green Hill Road, Old Lancaster Road, and Hudson Road.
There are currently two 115Kv lines already under Sudbury roads. They run from the Sudbury sub-station south of Route 20, along Goodman's Hill Road to Concord Road through the Town Center, down Morse Road. Mossman Road, across Rte. 117, and down Powder Mill Road to the Maynard sub-station on Old Sudbury Rd.
Most residents don’t even know they are there. Streets will heal.
The project, either underground or overhead on the MBTA right of way as proposed will:
-Cut through or along side three historic districts of the town including the King Philip Historic District, Wayside Inn Historic District, and the George Pitts Tavern Historic District.
-Cause irreparable damage to our residential neighborhoods
-Lower property values
-Increase our health risks
-Harm conservation land and the protected species that live there
-Cut through the heart of an important and unfragmented forest in Massachusetts, and a local beloved recreation area.
If the EFSB chooses the under streets option, there will be some traffic disruption during construction. And then the line will be buried under the street and we will forget it’s there, like the line under Goodman’s Hill Road.
The line along the MBTA right of way in Sudbury will run as follows: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-71.5232589,15.05z/data=!4m2!6m1!1szdpmuCHCDyFg.kRx-5ZKYiSSg
The transmission lines would run from the Eversource substation south of Route 20 behind Buddy Dog, along the railroad right of way behind Mill Village and along Maple Ave, crossing Route 20 to Station Road at Lotus Blossom and down Station Road to cross Union Ave.
It then continues on the railroad right of way past the back of Cavicchio’s Greenhouses through the back of Chiswick Park, behind Trailside Circle, Bridle Path, across Horsepond Road, parallel to Jarman and Stonebrook Roads, across Peakham Road, parallel to Robert Best, Austin, and Bulkley, and Amanda Roads, and across Dutton Road just north of Old Garrison Road and into the conservation land.
If it’s under streets, it will run from the substation, along Route 20, turning onto Green Hill, to Old Lancaster Road, to Hudson Road.
Protect Sudbury maintains that if Eversource has to build the lines anywhere in Sudbury, it should be under Route 20, an existing utility corridor.
Hop Brook Marsh Conservation Land, Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, Sudbury Valley Trustees Memorial Forest, and Marlborough State Forest. These lands are all one parcel, as described by Sudbury Valley Trustees: "Straddling the border of Sudbury and Marlborough, lies 615 acres of public and private open space dedicated primarily to conservation. This includes the General Federation’s Memorial Forest and Wildlife Sanctuary, two tracts of Marlborough State Forest, and conservation lands owned by Town of Sudbury and City of Marlborough. Its wetlands and clear streams, mosaic of oak and pine forests, and undulating terrain combine to provide habitat for a rich diversity of wildlife. Our Memorial Forest Nature Sightings page highlights some of this wildlife, featuring some great photos and videos. The extensive and varied trail system of old woods roads makes it accessible to walkers and nature watchers with little impact to the resources. As development continues to urbanize the remaining open space in Sudbury and Marlborough and neighboring towns of Hudson and Stow, this natural area only increases in local and regional significance."
Eversource plans to create a gravel access road for their utility trucks to run in conservation areas, which compounds the damage this project will do in conservation lands. Sudbury Valley Trustees currently places limitations on bicycles and ATVs in Memorial Forest; horses, bicycles, dogs and motorized vehicles are not allowed in Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge. With this plan Eversource will have right to drive their trucks through our conservation land and neighborhoods to maintain the power lines.
The project will cut through or along side three historic districts of the town including the King Philip Historic District, Wayside Inn Historic District, and the George Pitts Tavern Historic District.
The short answer is YES! An alternate solution was included in the ISO-NE report that involves upgrading the existing Hudson grid connection as an alternative. The initial costing of this solution was $60 million. The initial costing of the Sudbury-Hudson power line was $41 million. Since the Sudbury-Hudson line was significantly less expensive and provided a redundant path to Hudson, that option was selected.
Enter EFSB17-02 into the docket number box: http://web1.env.state.ma.us/DPU/FileRoom/dockets/bynumber
As an Intervenor, Protect Sudbury may:
-Issue information requests and receive responses
-Present written testimony and witnesses
-File a brief
-Review and comment on the Tentative Decision
-Appeal a final decision
Here is the link to the ESFB handbook: http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dpu/siting/handbook.pdf
The Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) makes the final decision on which option will get built. Or they can reject the petition altogether.
How much it affects house values will depend on which option the EFSB chooses. For either of the options on the MBTA right of way, there will be an impact to homeowners. It depends if you are a direct abutter, in view of the towers (if it’s the overhead option), live in an impacted neighborhood, or live in an adjacent neighborhood. Given that the overhead option remains on the table after a year of requesting Eversource reject it, we have to consider that they have every intention of building it if the EFSB chooses it as the best option, given that it is the cheapest.
Early in the process, Protect Sudbury looked into on the impact of the overhead option on property prices. The results follow:
Based upon extensive research and local data on property value impacts of overhead transmission lines, direct autters can expect: a 10-30% drop in home value. Similarly, properties that are in view of the towers can expect a 6% to 20% drop in home value. Higher-end homes in proximity to overhead transmission lines will experience the greatest declines in property value at the upper end of the estimated ranges. Abutting properties can expect significantly longer time on the market. And the buyer pool for homes affected by power lines would decrease by about 50% or more.
Property values in neighborhoods impacted by the transmission lines or adjacent neighborhoods will decline. We estimate this will be between 1% and 5%, depending on how close your home is to the power lines.
In terms of tax abatement, only direct abutters, not those simply in view of the towers, can expect a tax abatement (probably 15% in land value only). Non-abutters may experience drop in resale value, but don’t have the tax abatement.
The way the property impact analysis is currently set, we show this will impact Sudbury property values from between $20 million to $64 million, depending on which property impact assumptions you employ. Similarly, it will impact properties along the right of way (including Wayland, Stow, Marlborough, and Hudson from $36 million to $118 million). See infographics and more detail here: http://www.protectsudbury.org/blog/hearth-and-home/
Thanks for asking! You can help by fundraising, educating, and advocating!
Fundraise: First and foremost you can donate to Protect Sudbury. If we can’t fund our legal fight, the fight is over. Donate online or, send a check to: Protect Sudbury, Inc., 79 Robert Best Road Sudbury, MA 01776.
Protect Sudbury, Inc. is a section 501(c)(4) tax exempt corporation. For more information on our gift policies please go to: http://www.protectsudbury.org/donation-policy
Educate: Some of our community still has yet to understand the impact of this project, and you can help spread the word that this is a town wide issue. The fundamental look and feel of the town and this community will change to a more industrial character with fewer green spaces and more wires. Hold a meeting at your church, school, home, book club, tennis league, card club. We provide you with materials and a speaker - check the “Learn More” section of our website. http://www.protectsudbury.org/learn-more/
Advocate: Write and call our elected officials to let them know how you feel about this proposal. We have lists of State and Local officials as well as Eversource contacts: http://www.protectsudbury.org/letter-writing-campaign. You can also write a letter to the editor of the papers that cover our area.
Contact Eversource and let them know you oppose the project: JoAnne O’Leary, Eversource Community Relations Representative (508)-305-6898 Joanne.OLeary@eversource.com
Street captains help spread the word to their neighborhoods about the Eversource proposal and encourage people to get involved. Street captains organize teams to go door to door with informative flyers (a great volunteer project for high school students for which they can receive community service hours). Street Captains are the direct contacts for Protect Sudbury working group members. Although totally optional, many street captains are also hosting neighborhood open houses, so that residents may have their questions answered directly by Protect Sudbury Board members. Please email us at email@example.com and we will send you helpful info to get you started! Our Street Captain Coordinators are Chris and Bill Densel and they’d love to hear from you.
You can order signs through our website http://www.protectsudbury.org/signs/
We’ll keep a running list of orders until we hit 25 and then do a bulk order. If you want to do your own bulk order, you can contact Gemini Signs in Marlboro – 508 485 3343.
Of course there’s nothing to stop you making your own signs. Knock yourself out!
Thanks for asking. Protect Sudbury is an all volunteer effort. We need all sorts of skills from fundraising for our legal fund to spreading the word, and everything in between. See our help wanted page for more specific details (http://www.protectsudbury.org/help-wanted) and contact us if you’d like to help firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a grass roots effort. We’ve been at this for over a year now, so we’ve tried a lot of things and kicked around a lot of ideas. What we really need is the bandwidth to bring these ideas to life. So if you can help out, let us know!
Our number one priority is always fundraising. Although it can be frustrating to keep repeating that we have to focus on the money, the bottom line is that if we can’t pay our lawyer, we can’t win against Eversouce.
Contact details for local, state, and federal representatives who we are targeting at the moment can be found here: http://www.protectsudbury.org/letter-writing-campaign
When you get a good response, don’t forget to thank them!
Representative Carmine Gentile: https://malegislature.gov/Legislators/Profile/CLG1
Senator Jamie Eldridge (precincts 2, 3): https://malegislature.gov/Legislators/Profile/JBE0
Senator Mike Barrett (precincts 1, 4, 5): https://malegislature.gov/Legislators/Profile/MJB0
Governor Charlie Baker: http://www.mass.gov/governor/constituent-services/contact-governor-office/
Secretary, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Matthew Beaton: https://malegislature.gov/People/Profile/MAB1
Mass. Attorney General, Maura Healey: http://www.mass.gov/ago/contact-us.html
Representative Katherine Clark
Senators Ed Markey
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Sudbury to Hudson Transmission Line Project – Project Manager
Bev Schultz, 781-441-8345, Beverly.Schultz@Eversource.com
Community Relations Specialist (Municipalities)
JoAnne O’Leary, 508-305-6898, Joanne.OLeary@Eversource.com
Project Outreach Specialist (business/residential )
Mark Kimball, 860-728-4663, Mark.Kimball@Eversource.com
Official statements and letters include the Town Manager, Sudbury Board of Selectmen, the Sudbury Historical Society, Sudbury Historic Districts Commission, the Conservation Commission, our elected state and federal representatives, Sudbury Valley Trustees, and Mass. Audubon and many others
It’s important to realize that although official support is an essential part of the fight to stop Eversource, it doesn’t de facto mean this project will not go forward. These commissions don’t get a final say or even a vote.
To donate by check, please mail a check to: Protect Sudbury, Inc., 79 Robert Best Road, Sudbury, MA 01776
To donate by paypal or credit card, click here: http://www.protectsudbury.org/donate/
Legal representation provides us a ‘place at the table’ and the ability to direct and lead all legal efforts in a manner that is consistent with the organization’s overall goals. Having our own legal counsel helps to guide and direct our efforts in the most effective way possible moving forward. Protect Sudbury is unique in that it alone can focus on this one issue, whereas the Town has additional legal battles to contend with as well as many constituencies to serve.
Having dual legal representation for Protect Sudbury and the Town is in no way redundant. The Town has important legal status as an Intervenor before the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) and can exercise certain rights that are unique to that status to help achieve our goal.
Likewise, an organization such as Protect Sudbury, has unique legal status before the ESFB, and can advocate and lobby for aspects of our cause that are not available to the Town. Every group appearing before the EFSB as an Intervenor must have legal representation. That’s why we have secured Burns & Levinson to represent our interests and why we are collecting donations to our legal fund (http://www.protectsudbury.org/donate/).
Our primary fundraising effort is to fund the legal battle. The vast majority of funds raised are used to pay for legal fees. Cases like these rely very heavily upon professional experts in the areas of utility engineering and siting. This effort will also likely require environmental experts. Experts are a large expense in this legal battle and your money will be used to hire the top available experts. A small percentage of funds raised are used in administrative costs (printing and special projects) and things like insurance.
Volunteers on the legal subgroup gathered input from the community and conducted their own research on firms with relevant experience and expertise. After a thorough search of firms with relevant experience and numerous interviews we solicited proposals from several different firms. Each proposal was examined and graded on 8 different criteria such as utility experience, firm reputation, and experience with groups such as ours. Richard Kanoff scored very high in each category.
- He is the chair of Burns & Levinson energy & facility practice group and has been in practice since 1974.
- Richard has extensive experience representing both utilities and community groups in the utility siting process and has appeared before both state and federal agencies responsible for approving siting plans.
- He is the lead attorney for community groups just like ours in Mass and NH in the battle with Kinder Morgan on their proposed gas pipeline. Recently, due to opposition, Kinder Morgan withdrew its gas pipeline proposal.
- Richard a former Assistant Attorney General in the Utilities Division in MA.
- Burns & Levinson is a large and well-respected law firm that enjoys a regional and national ranking by US News and World Report. The firm also has other departments that it can draw upon that may become useful during our fight such as real estate litigation and environmental.
The short answer is not in this context. Although the herbicides used by Eversource are approved for use by the state, there is good cause for concern. Regular spraying in environmentally sensitive areas is harmful to the plants and animals that inhabit those areas since they are subject to consistent higher levels of exposure. In addition, one of the approved herbicides for use in vegetation control is glyphosate, a substance deemed as a “probable carcinogen” by the IARC, the World Health Organization’s cancer assessment agency, and currently banned in several countries. Another approved herbicide used by Eversource, fosamine ammonium (Krenite), has had no human health risk assessment as it’s not approved for residential use, yet it’s used on rights of way that are cleared right up to abutter’s properties.
No. Eversource’s proposal involves construction of a non-continuous service road which they claim can be used as a base for a rail trail. The proposal does NOT include construction of the trail, nor maintenance of the service road for other than Eversource purposes.
Although in Eversource’s submission to the EFSB, the underground option included bridge repair, the overhead option does not.
Protect Sudbury has no official position on the rail trail itself, but recommends that the town reject the current Eversource proposal through the MBTA right of way on economic, aesthetic, and environmental grounds whether or not Eversource claims their “service road” is a “base layer” for a rail trail.
If Sudbury wants to be part of the Mass. Central Rail Trail that is planned to connect Boston to Northampton, that’s something for the town to decide, not a private utility. Most rail trails are 12-20 feet wide and would have considerably less aesthetic and environmental impact.
Looking for proof? Watch this February 2016 video of Eversource Project Manager Bev Schultz or read the transcript (this refers to building the overhead route):
We are not proposing a bike path. We’re proposing an access road that can be utilized. I would like to point out that, I was mentioning that there are some existing bridges. We do not plan to make use of those bridges. We don’t really know the condition of those bridges nor their ability to support our very large construction and maintenance vehicles. So we will come from either direction from roads when we need to get to any part of the right of way. There are a number of roads that cross over the right of way.
Power outages tend to be caused by downed local distribution power lines, not transmission line issues. Massachusetts currently has a surplus of energy. Local power losses aren’t related to transmission capabilities. Sudbury's past power outages have occurred along the distribution lines from the substation to the consumers, not in the transmission lines delivering power to the substation. The intention of the new transmission line is to provide a redundant feed to Hudson so that power can be sourced through Sudbury and beyond to the western suburbs, currently served only through the Northboro Road substation.
Transmission lines are high capacity power lines that bring electricity from a generating station into local substations. Distribution lines carry power from local substations to homes and businesses. Eversource’s proposal is 115 KV transmission lines, which are much higher voltage than the lines you see strung on phone poles around town. This project is transmission lines which is why the poles are so tall.
Only if you leave the grid completely!
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Learn more about aggregation here: http://sudbury.wickedlocal.com/news/20170601/sudbury-electricity-aggregation-program-to-boost-renewables.
Compare electricity rates in Massachusetts here: http://www.energyswitchma.gov/#/
We don’t think that it’s likely that they will pull the project prior to going before the Siting Board. The Siting Board might end up pushing this back to ISO New England by denying their petition.
According to Eversource’s petition to the EFSB for the the conceptual level cost estimate (-25%/+50%) in 208 dollars.
“Project” (ie underground on MBTA) $91.0 million
“Noticed Variation" (ie overhead on MBTA) $44.2 million
“Noticed Alternative" (ie under streets) $110.4
Note that since the cost estimates are (-25%/+50%), each number estimate should really be expressed as a range, in which case, there are considerable overlaps between the routes.
So the ranges are as follows:
According to Eversource FAQ,"...For projects deemed to be of regional benefit, such as the Sudbury to Hudson Transmission Reliability Project, the cost of the new transmission facilities are shared by all electric consumers in New England based on the level of energy consumed (“load share”)..." Whatever happens, overhead, underground, in Sudbury or somewhere else in New England, if a utility builds new transmission lines, it's us, the consumer who pays.
According to Eversource FAQ: "...Where lines can be constructed overhead but are put underground instead, there is a high likelihood that most, if not all, of the incremental costs of the underground line construction would be charged to local consumers." That means that any option besides the cheapest is chosen, regardless of the reason – for example, unacceptable impact on the local economy, community, environment, and health – the cost is “localized.”
We have not been able to determine definitively how localized cost is determined. The utility can propose any solution that they want, but it’s ultimately up to ISO New England and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission - FERC. Most costs are either allocated to the entire state (as opposed to the New England Region) or to the particular utilities’ customers within that state. ISO makes an accounting determination and recommendation to FERC; FERC generally goes along with ISO determination. If contested, FERC can open an investigation. After an ISO solution study is issued, that could change through the stakeholder process. Communities have the ability to provide their input and help shape the solution – the EFSB looks broadly at projects to see what other methods could be reviewed or alternative routes there may be for a transmission line. EFSB looks at project alternatives. Communities could provide a competing non-transmission alternative proposal in their intervention.