Hudson-Sudbury Eversource project to move forward

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By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer

 A sign stands outside of an Eversource facility in Southborough.   (Photo/Laura Hayes)
A sign stands outside of an Eversource facility in Southborough.
(Photo/Laura Hayes)

HUDSON – A proposed Eversource transmission line to run from Sudbury to Hudson will go forward unless the project’s opponents succeed in a final effort to make a federal case out of the multi-town, years-long controversy. 

A 115,000-volt power line would run about nine miles between Hudson and Sudbury, with 7.6 miles of underground wires following the path of an unused rail-bed. The remaining 1.4 miles of line would travel under Hudson streets. 

First proposed in 2016, this project was billed as an effort to shore up the electrical grid in Hudson and its surrounding communities by connecting the town’s Cherry Street substation to a second substation in Sudbury. Back in 2017, officials noted that the line would create redundancy to limit power outages. 

The state Energy Facilities Siting Board approved the project, but that decision was appealed by the Town of Sudbury and a local group, Protect Sudbury. Advocates in both Hudson and Sudbury have long opposed Eversource’s plan, citing concerns about environmentally sensitive areas and contamination of water supplies among other things. 

On June 25, the Commonwealth’s Supreme Judicial Court issued its decision to deny the appeal. 

A fallen tree lays across an abandoned rail line in Hudson. Eversource has long sought to build a power line along an abandoned MBTA right of way in the area to connect the Hudson Light and Power substation to a second location in Sudbury.  (Photo/Dakota Antelman)
A fallen tree lays across an abandoned rail line in Hudson. Eversource has long sought to build a power line along an abandoned MBTA right of way in the area to connect the Hudson Light and Power substation to a second location in Sudbury.
(Photo/Dakota Antelman)

Opponents of the project are now continuing efforts before federal Surface Transportation Board, Protect Sudbury President Ray Phillips told the Community Advocate last month. In their petition filed on March 11, Protect Sudbury argued that the rail bed was never truly abandoned, remains an active rail line, and thus is ineligible for redevelopment as proposed. Protect Sudbury has also requested a delay in the project’s start from the Energy Facilities Siting Board. 

The MBTA responded to Protect Sudbury’s petition in its own filing with the Surface Transportation Board on April 30.

Though the Transportation Board had not made a decision as of July 31, for Brian O’Neill of the group Protect Hudson, the state court decision was the end of the road.

Abandoned train tracks run through the forest beside Mulready Elementary School in Hudson.  (Photo/Dakota Antelman)
Abandoned train tracks run through the forest beside Mulready Elementary School in Hudson.
(Photo/Dakota Antelman)

“Eventually, I just gave up with watching the corruption,” O’Neill said.

He plans to continue to support Protect Sudbury in its efforts to continue to appeal. 

O’Neill’s property is one of a few in Hudson that abuts the planned path of the power line. In Sudbury, several hundred residents are considered abutters.

“Hudson doesn’t have half the [environmental] protections that Sudbury does,” O’Neill said. 

The Town of Hudson, meanwhile, is moving forward on the assumption the project proceeds. 

During a July 20 Municipal Light Board meeting, Hudson Light and Power General Manager Brian Choquette told the board that their engineers have been coordinating with Eversource and National Grid. 

“We may need to put deposits down for materials and equipment this fall, which could be a couple million [dollars],” Choquette said. “I almost expect Eversource to start in Hudson, because Hudson’s provided all the permits.”

Abandoned train tracks run through the forest beside Mulready Elementary School in Hudson.  (Photo/Dakota Antelman)
Abandoned train tracks run through the forest beside Mulready Elementary School in Hudson.
(Photo/Dakota Antelman)

Eversource spokesperson William Hinkle discussed the project in a statement to the Community Advocate.

“Selected as one of approximately 40 transmission solutions that emerged from an extended study of the regional transmission system performed by ISO-NE to increase system reliability and provide greater access to lower-cost cleaner energy resources, the Sudbury to Hudson Transmission Reliability Project is critical to ensuring that customers have access to the safe, reliable energy they need.”

He noted that Eversource plans to work with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to install a bike path along the transmission line. This would be an extension of the Massachusetts Central Rail Trail. 

“This partnership and close coordination of projects is designed to avoid and minimize impacts to environmental resource areas while leaving behind a key recreational asset,” Hinkle wrote.

“As this project to help ensure safe, reliable service for our customers moves forward, we remain committed to working closely with town and state officials, our local communities and other stakeholders and with a focus on environmental responsibility,” he continued.

 

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