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Chronicle of a Transmission Line Siting

Cross-Sound Cable Co. shows how transmission siting is much harder to do now than in the good old days.
Fortnightly Magazine - January 1 2003

the city of New Haven, Connecticut's attorney general, and several shellfish companies, but each challenge was either withdrawn (in the case of the shellfish companies), or dismissed by a higher court or other legal authority. During this time Cross-Sound installed its transmission cable. The company now is in the process of meeting the depth requirements for the cable.

What happened last summer could be seen as a validation of Cross-Sound's position. Faced with an imminent emergency for power during an August heat wave, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) requested that the U.S. Department of Energy issue an order requiring Cross-Sound to transmit electricity to Long Island. In its request to the DOE, LIPA asked that the order require Cross-Sound to operate the cable in August and September and accept schedules for transmission from LIPA on a day-ahead basis when LIPA forecasted that its generation reserve margin would be less than 600 megawatts in excess of anticipated load. The DOE issued the Emergency Order on Aug. 12, 2002, pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 824a(c).

Failure to comply with the emergency order would have subjected Cross-Sound to both criminal and civil penalties under federal law, which provides for the imposition of penalties (up to $7,750 per day, combined) for "each day that a violation of the provisions of this subpart or any order issued pursuant thereto continues" 10 C.F.R. § 207.7. In addition, 10 C.F.R. § 207.8 vests the federal district courts with jurisdiction to hear injunction petitions filed by the United States attorney general at the DOE's request for the violation of any provision or order.

No entity sought to appeal the DOE emergency order, although the Connecticut attorney general publicly opposed operation of the cable until it was installed to the authorized depth along 100 percent of the route.

A break in the heat wave eliminated LIPA's potential emergency, and the cable was never called upon during the term of the order. As of mid-November, the cable was safely installed but not yet operational pending meeting the authorized burial depth. Linda Randell is chair of the Utilities and Regulated Industries Department at Wiggin & Dana (New Haven, Conn.).

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