Abutters question cost of electricity upgrades
Date: 11/24/2010Nov. 24, 2010
By Katelyn Gendron
AGAWAM -- The Greater Springfield Reliability Project (GSRP) will bring a dependable route for electricity to power Western Massachusetts once it's completed in 2013 but for some abutters, the price for such an endeavor is too high.
Curious members of the public, as well as a mix of disgruntled and pleased abutters, attended Western Massachusetts Electric Company's (WMECo) open house at Agawam High School Nov. 17 to learn more about how the project will affect their properties and their daily lives, once completed.
"They've not been able to compensate enough for the inconvenience and for the loss in resale value [of our home]," one abutter on Lancaster Street, said. The abutters, who chose to remain anonymous, are concerned about the amount of construction noise and land clearing necessary for the project, as well as its impact on the privacy of their property.
The project, which will break ground in 2011, is part of New England East-West Solutions, enhancing transmission lines in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The GSRP will include 27 miles of new and reconstructed transmission lines, two new switching stations and substation improvements throughout Agawam, West Springfield, Chicopee, Springfield and Ludlow.
"At the peak of construction, there will be 1,000 construction jobs and once it's in service it will bring $11 million in new tax revenue," Frank Poirot, spokesperson for Northeast Utilities, said.
When asked if the right-of-way negotiations have been completed with abutting property owners, Poirot replied that there are less than half a dozen still outstanding.
He said the open house allowed those in the area to understand the value of dependable service as well as the huge scope of the GSRP.
"[Construction equipment] comes into a lawn that hasn't seen anything bigger than a riding lawn mover for years," Poirot noted, adding that properties will be returned to their previous condition.
Dan Kennedy, an abutter to the project who lives at 30 Prospect St., said he'd have a bird's eye view of the construction in his back yard.
"They wanted to build a tower 85 feet from my back door and cut down 60-foot trees," he explained of initial proposals. "Now they're going under the property."
David Popp of 25 Prospect St., said he was pleased with Northeast Utilities and WMECo's commitment to keep abutting property owners in the loop.
The final open house was conducted in West Springfield last week; however, more information about the GSRP may be obtained at www.neewsprojects.com