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Jules Verne's Grid?

With undersea cable linking Canada to Manhattan, Project Neptune could remake the transmission biz.

Fortnightly Magazine - February 15 2001

with alternating current.

The study adds that "alternatives are being developed to bring power from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, or northern Maine to New York by HVDC cable." It describes a final, yet to be completed study that will represent effects on the "entire" northeastern U.S. bulk power system, focusing on the New York, New England, and PJM interconnections, south and east of Utica, New York.

So who is putting this deal together?

"WE'RE A GROUP OF VERY COMPATIBLE COMPANIES," said Chuck Hewett, CEO of Atlantic Energy Partners, LLC, the sponsor for Project Neptune. "We're the kind of Yankee folks who'd rather work quietly behind the scenes and then be judged by our actions."

According to Hewett, the philosophy of the project is to interconnect the major load centers in New England, New York, and PJM, which are "having a hard time" solving their load problems with transmission solutions.

"There is cost-effective energy," adds Hewett. "Natural gas is available more cheaply in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. We can send gas by wire from the Maritimes to the northeast United States. To the extent we're displacing generation, it's likely to be older, oil-fired generation in the cities. But also, we also see substantial opportunities with existing capacity. Maine has winter peaks, while Boston, Connecticut, New York, and the Jersey shore are summer peaking."

Hewett told me that last summer, Goldman Sachs "did a very interesting piece" on the availability of gas on the continental shelf off the Maritime Provinces. "We're optimistic that this could make sense on both ends," said Hewett. "And it might mitigate the need for additional pipeline as well, to get the energy to the downtown areas where it is needed.

"We see this as a positive story. Using a DC line avoids problems. We've tried to route the line underwater to avoid critical fishing areas. We don't have to go through peoples' backyards."