Power line installation along the Winooski (Aug. 28, 2008)

Aug. 28, 2008
By Tim Simard
Observer staff

New transmission lines are currently in the works for Williston and neighboring towns.

The Vermont Electric Power Company, also known as VELCO, is looking to expand a current transmission line that runs from the Essex Substation in Williston to the East Avenue Substation in Burlington. Plans call for the 4.8-mile long transmission line to cross the Winooski River six times in parts of Williston, South Burlington, Colchester and Burlington.

VELCO is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct work in the waters of the Winooski as part of the construction project, said Michael Adams, senior project manager for the Corps.

According to the project’s public notice at the Corps of Engineers’ Web site, the “basic project purpose is to provide adequate and reliable electric service to Chittenden County.” A spokesperson from VELCO did not return phone calls by press deadline.

Adams said the power lines in Williston will stretch from the Essex Substation east of Route 2A, running alongside the Winooski River and River Cove Road before crossing the river at its confluence with the Allen and Muddy brooks.

Adams said that since transmissions lines already exist where the newer lines will be installed, construction would be minimal for this type of project. He said about a third of the project would occur in Williston.

He did say nearly 221,000 square feet of wetlands in Williston and the other communities would be temporarily impacted during the construction phase, with approximately 2,140 square feet permanently filled in due to transmission pole installation.

VELCO had to file federal permits with the Corps of Engineers in conjunction with the project. One was filed in accordance with the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge of material in waters and wetlands. The second permit was filed with the Rivers and Harbors Act, which regulates work on navigable waters, such as the Winooski River.

Adams said it was “difficult to say” when the permit might be approved and when work could begin. The permit is currently up for public review on the Corps’ Web site, www.nae.usace.army.mil, where details and charts are provided. The public can forward comments to the Corps until Friday, Sept. 19.

“I think (the project) is going to have less comments and concerns because a line already exists,” Adams said.

Comments about the project can be e-mailed directly to Adams at Michael.s.adams@usace.army.mil or at 872-2893. Letters can be written to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Vermont Project Office — attention Michael Adams, 8 Carmichael St., Suite 205, Essex Junction, Vt. 05452.