Quebec – New England Transmission

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450kV HVDC line (at right), on south side of Autoroute 20 east of the Nicolet station near Sainte-Eulalie, Quebec.

The Quebec – New England Transmission (officially known in Quebec as the Réseau multiterminal à courant continu (RMCC)[1] and also known as Phase I / Phase II[2] and the Radisson - Nicolet - Des Cantons circuit[3]) is a long-distance high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line between Radisson, Quebec and Sandy Pond in Ayer, Massachusetts. As of 2012, it remains one of only two Multi-terminal HVDC systems in the world (the other one being the Sardinia–Corsica–Italy system, completed in the same year) and is "the only multi-terminal bipole HVDC system in the world where three stations are interconnected and operate under a common master control system".[4]


Initially, the Quebec – New England Transmission consisted of the 172 km (107 mi) section between the Des Cantons station near Windsor, Quebec and the Frank D. Comerford Dam near Monroe, New Hampshire which, because of the asynchronous operation of the American and Québec power grids, had to be implemented as HVDC. This bipolar electricity transmission line, which is overhead for its whole length except the crossing of Saint Lawrence river, went into service in 1986. It could transfer a maximum power of 690 megawatts. The operating voltage was ±450kV[5] or 900 kV from line to line.

Sandy Pond converter station in Ayer, MA. The HVDC line can be seen near top of the image.

The line was planned to extend beyond the two terminals at Des Cantons and Comerford to the hydroelectric power plants of the La Grande Complex, in the James Bay region of Québec, and to the high consumption area around Boston, Massachusetts — specifically, by 1,100 kilometers to the north toward the converter station at Radisson Substation, and to the south to the converter station at Sandy Pond in Massachusetts.[citation needed] The transmission power was increased by extending the existing converter stations to 2,000 megawatts, with the value of the transmission voltage remaining unchanged at ±450 kV.[citation needed] For the connection of the Montreal area, a further converter station at Nicolet was put into service in 1992 with a transmission capacity of 2,000 megawatts.[citation needed]

The line crosses the Saint Lawrence River between Grondines and Lotbinière via an tunnel.[6] Until the tunnel was built, the line crossed the river via an overhead lattice tower electricity pylon—portions of one of these towers would later be used as part of the observation tower at La Cité de l'Énergie in Shawinigan.[citation needed]

Future expansion[edit]

In December 2008, Hydro-Québec, along with American utilities Northeast Utilities (parent company of Public Service of New Hampshire) and NSTAR (parent company of Boston Edison), created a joint venture to build a new HVDC line from Windsor, Quebec to Deerfield, New Hampshire, with an HVDC converter terminal built in Franklin, New Hampshire.[7] Hydro-Québec will own the segment within Quebec, while the segment within the US will be owned by Northern Pass Transmission LLC, a partnership between Northeast Utilities (75%) and NSTAR (25%).[8] Estimated to cost US$1.1 billion to build,[9] it is projected that the line will either run in existing right-of-way adjacent to the HVDC line that runs through New Hampshire, or it will connect to a right-of-way in northern New Hampshire that will run through the White Mountains. This 180-to-190-mile (290 to 310 km) line, projected to carry 1,200 megawatts, will bring electricity to approximately one million homes.[10]

In order to go ahead, the project must receive regulatory approval in Quebec and the United States. The proposed transmission line could have been in operation in 2015.[11] According to Jim Robb, a senior executive from Northeast Utilities, New England could meet one third of its Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative commitments with the hydropower coming through this new power line alone.[12]

In October 2010, Northeast Utilities announced that it would merge with NSTAR, with the resulting company initially retaining the Northeast Utilities name. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.[13] In effect, Northern Pass Transmission would become a wholly owned subsidiary of Northeast Utilities, which would be renamed Eversource Energy in 2015.

The purchase of power from Hydro-Québec was an issue during the Massachusetts gubernatorial election of 2010.[14]


Important waypoints of the line.

Radisson to Nicolet[edit]

Site Coordinates
Radisson, Quebec, Canada 53°43′33″N 77°44′17″W / 53.72583°N 77.73806°W / 53.72583; -77.73806 (Radisson converter station)
Radisson Grounding Electrode ( not at main line) 53°29′18″N 77°47′35″W / 53.48833°N 77.79306°W / 53.48833; -77.79306 (Radisson Grounding Electrode)
Saint-Maurice River,
south of La Tuque, Quebec
47°20′52″N 72°47′57″W / 47.34778°N 72.79917°W / 47.34778; -72.79917 (Crossing of Saint-Maurice River)
Northern Cable Terminal of Saint Lawrence River Crossing,
Grondines, Quebec, Canada
46°37′32″N 72°00′51″W / 46.62556°N 72.01417°W / 46.62556; -72.01417 (Northern Cable Terminal of Saint Lawrence River Crossing)
Southern Cable Terminal of Saint Lawrence River Crossing,
Lotbinière, Quebec, Canada
46°35′36″N 71°58′19″W / 46.59333°N 71.97194°W / 46.59333; -71.97194 (Southern Cable Terminal of Saint Lawrence River Crossing)

Nicolet to Des Cantons[edit]

Site Coordinates
Nicolet station,
Sainte-Eulalie, Quebec, Canada
46°04′47″N 72°14′58″W / 46.07972°N 72.24944°W / 46.07972; -72.24944 (Nicolet converter station)
Des Cantons station,
Windsor, Quebec, Canada
45°33′44″N 71°57′01″W / 45.56222°N 71.95028°W / 45.56222; -71.95028 (Des Cantons converter station)
Des Cantons Grounding Electrode
Windsor, Quebec, Canada
45°36′29″N 71°51′06″W / 45.60806°N 71.85167°W / 45.60806; -71.85167 (Des Cantons Grounding Electrode)

Des Cantons to Comerford[edit]

Site Coordinates
Des Cantons station,
Windsor, Quebec, Canada
45°33′44″N 71°57′01″W / 45.56222°N 71.95028°W / 45.56222; -71.95028 (Des Cantons converter station)
Des Cantons Grounding Electrode
Windsor, Quebec, Canada
45°36′29″N 71°51′06″W / 45.60806°N 71.85167°W / 45.60806; -71.85167 (Des Cantons Grounding Electrode)
Border crossing between USA and Canada
(east of Stanhope, Quebec and Norton, Vermont)
45°00′40″N 71°44′12″W / 45.01111°N 71.73667°W / 45.01111; -71.73667 (HVDC crossing of USA-Canada border)
Moore Dam / Connecticut River,
Waterford, Vermont / Littleton, New Hampshire, USA

Comerford to Ayer[edit]

Site Coordinates
Frank D. Comerford Dam / Comerford converter station,
Monroe, New Hampshire, USA
44°19′9″N 71°59′35″W / 44.31917°N 71.99306°W / 44.31917; -71.99306 (Comerford converter station)
Merrimack River,
East Merrimack/Litchfield, New Hampshire, USA
42°53'42.24"N 71°27'34.40"W
New Hampshire / Massachusetts state line
Hudson, New Hampshire / Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, USA
42°41'58.47"N 71°25'45.75"W
Ayer, Massachusetts, USA 42°34′13″N 71°31′27″W / 42.57028°N 71.52417°W / 42.57028; -71.52417 (Ayer converter station)

Des Cantons to Deerfield[edit]

Route listed here reflects the primary route, and is currently projected.[15]

Site Coordinates
Des Cantons station,
Windsor, Quebec, Canada
45°33′44″N 71°57′01″W / 45.56222°N 71.95028°W / 45.56222; -71.95028 (Des Cantons converter station)
Des Cantons Grounding Electrode
Windsor, Quebec, Canada
45°36′29″N 71°51′06″W / 45.60806°N 71.85167°W / 45.60806; -71.85167 (Des Cantons Grounding Electrode)
Border crossing between USA and Canada / Connecticut River
(west of Pittsburg, New Hampshire)
Northumberland, New Hampshire, USA
Whitefield, New Hampshire, USA
North Woodstock, New Hampshire, USA
Beebe River, New Hampshire, USA
Ashland, New Hampshire, USA
Pemigewasset River, New Hampshire, USA
Southern HVDC Converter Terminal,
Franklin, New Hampshire, USA
Oak Hill, New Hampshire, USA
Deerfield, New Hampshire, USA

Grounding electrodes[edit]

Quebec – New England Transmission has two grounding electrodes: one at Des Cantons at 45°36′29″N 71°51′06″W / 45.60806°N 71.85167°W / 45.60806; -71.85167 (Des Cantons Grounding Electrode) and the other near Radisson substation approximately at 53°29′18″N 77°47′35″W / 53.48833°N 77.79306°W / 53.48833; -77.79306 (Radisson Grounding Electrode).


2004 Hydro tower bombing[edit]

In 2004, shortly before U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to Canada, a tower along the Quebec – New England Transmission circuit in the Eastern Townships near the Canada–US border was damaged by explosive charges detonated at its base. The CBC reported that a message, purportedly from the Résistance internationaliste and issued to the La Presse and Le Journal de Montréal newspapers and CKAC radio, stated that the attack had been carried out to "denounce the 'pillaging' of Quebec's resources by the United States".[3][16]

2015: Sierra Club of New Hampshire[edit]

In November 2015, the Sierra Club of New Hampshire expressed opposition to the new line, saying that it would benefit Connecticut and Massachusetts residents more than those in New Hampshire, and expressing concerns about the flooding of boreal forests during the construction of Hydro-Québec's dams in northern Quebec, disputes with the Innu First Nations, and the effects on tourism and the environment within the White Mountain National Forest.[17]

2011-Present: Local government and community opposition[edit]

A coalition of New Hampshire communities and local government officials oppose the construction of the expanded transmission line. Elected representatives from New Hampshire's 10 counties have expressed opposition, including 114 officials in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and 5 members of the New Hampshire Senate.[18] United States Congressional Representative Carol Shea-Porter[19] and Senators Maggie Hassan[20] and Jeanne Shaheen[21] also oppose expansion of the line.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ [2] Archived November 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b "Green Anarchy". Archived from the original on September 29, 2005. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  4. ^ "National Grid and ABB Celebrate 25th Anniversary of HVDC in New England". T&D World Magazine. November 20, 2015. Retrieved November 29, 2015.
  5. ^ "Voltage". ABB. Archived from the original on 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  6. ^ "Crossings". Hydro-Québec. Archived from the original on 2008-01-13. Retrieved 2008-02-15.[failed verification].[failed verification]
  7. ^ Northern Pass Transmission (2010). "Route Information". Northern Pass Transmission LLC. Archived from the original on December 20, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
  8. ^ Alspach, Kyle (2010-10-05). "NStar to build hydro power line". Boston Business Journal. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  9. ^ Dillon, John (2010-10-08). "New Transmission Line Reaches Milestone". Vermont Public Radio. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  10. ^ Porter, Louis (19 December 2008). "Utilities plan for N.E. expansion". Rutland Herald. Archived from the original on 15 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
  11. ^ Constant, Kenny (2010-10-13). "Energy project unveiled; impact called 'staggering'". The Citizen of Laconia. Laconia, NH. Retrieved 2010-10-13.[dead link]
  12. ^ Penty, Rebecca (2009-11-14). "U.S. calls power line a landmark investment". Telegraph-Journal. Saint John, NB. p. C1. Archived from the original on April 8, 2011. Retrieved 2009-11-14.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 20, 2010. Retrieved October 18, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  14. ^ Daley, Beth (2010-10-23). "Canadian firm offers N.E. more hydropower". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
  15. ^ "Northern Pass: Project Route Map, as of October 14, 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  16. ^ [3] Archived March 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ The Globe and Mail: "Quebec is facing its own 'dirty' energy export problem", November 26, 2015.
  18. ^ [4]
  19. ^ [5]
  20. ^ [6]
  21. ^ [7]


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