NSTAR is applauding the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board's unanimous approval of the company's plan to build a new 18-mile, underground transmission line that will vastly increase the Boston region's energy options and ensure electric reliability for New England's future. The Siting Board's vote yesterday approves a draft decision issued in December and clears the way for NSTAR to begin construction of the 345,000 V(or 345-kV) transmission line in the spring.

"This is a significant day for electricity users all across New England," said Thomas J. May, president, CEO and chairman of NSTAR. "This one decision will help set our region on a solid course toward greater electric reliability, and benefit every resident and business in our region for years to come."

NSTAR plans to break ground on the 345-kV line by this spring, and aims to have the new line in service by June of 2006. The project will ease an existing transmission bottleneck by connecting Greater Boston's electric infrastructure to an abundant supply of electricity in Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. By increasing the supply of electricity into and around Boston, the new line will further ensure reliability for all of New England.

The 345-kV project will also provide economic benefits by reducing the area's reliance on local, high cost power-generating plants. A study by ISO New England recommends adding new power lines, like the new 345-kV line, to the regional system to meet future growth in electricity use and to offset the potential retirement of local plants. Consumer demand for electricity has increased by 20% over the past several years, and this growth is expected to continue.

"The Siting Board is to be commended for prompt action, approving this crucial system upgrade," said May, noting that similar proposed projects in neighboring states have been stalled by procedural issues. "The Board's approval today is indicative of the broad-based support this project has received since its inception." May applauded the leadership of Department of Telecommunications & Energy (DTE) Chairman Paul G. Afonso, who also chairs the Energy Facilities Siting Board; and the other members of the Board who voted to approve the plan; including DTE Commissioners Robert Keating and Judith Judson, Stephan Pritchard of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, Deborah Shufrin of the Department of Business and Technology, and Robert Sydney of the Division of Energy Resources.