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New underwater power line through region moving closer to reality

Mike Winslow, a staff scientist with the Lake Champlain Committee, said his group has identified a number of potential concerns with the plan, including disturbing historic wrecks and sensitive sediment areas on the bottom of the lake.

"Our greatest concerns were in the southern part of the lake where we anticipated wetlands impacts and perhaps greater sediment disturbance," Winslow said.

In response, the company is considering altering its route in that area, though Jessome could not divulge the exact route because the company is working that out with the New York's Public Service Commission, in a process known as Article VII.

"We are currently in settlement discussions in the Article VII process, and routing issues are deemed to be confidential. We expect to have more detail in this regard by mid April," Jessome said.

Winslow said the company should contribute to the cost of cleaning up Lake Champlain and keeping the watershed healthy if it is allowed to use the lake as its conduit. The company has said underwater installation is $2 million cheaper per mile than burying lines underground.

"There is so much work that needs to be done to clean Lake Champlain that it only seems fair if the company is going to be using the lake to benefit themselves and their stockholders that they make a substantial contribution to those clean up efforts," Winslow said.

Jessome said it is the company's intent to do just that.

"In projects of this type, funds to support studies and mitigation are typically part of the certification process," he said.

TDI will also be providing annual financial assistance for environmental projects, he said.

In addition, Jessome said local labor will be used to help install the power line - which will be dredged three feet below the lake's bottom. In total, the company hopes to create about 200 jobs during the installation process.

For more about the project, including a detailed question and answer section, visit www.CHPExpress.com.

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