The Connecticut Light and Power Co. (CL&P), part of the Northeast Utilities System (NU), and The United Illuminating Co. (UI), part of the UIL Corporation (UIL), today announced that the Middletown-Norwalk (M-N) transmission project has been energized, nearly one year ahead of schedule, improving reliability for Connecticut and the region’s electric customers.

The project – one of the largest electric infrastructure upgrades in the country – is a joint effort of CL&P and UI, and consists of 69 mi of 345-kV high-voltage transmission lines through 18 Connecticut cities and towns. The project finished early and is expected to cost approximately $1.27 billion, significantly under budget, providing real savings for customers. Spanning seven-and-one-half years, the project completes a loop linking the southwest part of the state to the nearly 400 mi of 345-kV lines that already run through the rest of Connecticut.

“Energizing the Middletown-Norwalk project brings improved reliability for electric customers in Connecticut and the region,” said Charles W. Shivery, NU chairman, president and chief executive officer. “The Middletown-Norwalk project marks the closure of the southwest Connecticut transmission projects. These new transmission facilities enable us to meet national reliability standards, which provide a more secure regional transmission grid.”

Construction of the M-N project included 45 mi of overhead lines and 24 mi of underground lines, along with 57 mi of reconstructed 115-kV lines. In addition, the project’s stellar safety record – over 2.6 million man-hours worked in the last two-and-one-half years – was more than 10 times lower than the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ national average rate.

“Southwest Connecticut and the region enter a new era with this important transmission upgrade,” said James P. Torgerson, president and chief executive officer of UIL Holdings Corporation and UI chief executive officer. “The Middletown-Norwalk project is an example of how technology and partnership can help enhance electric reliability for the region.”

In energizing the project ahead of the original 2009 schedule, CL&P and UI acknowledged the extraordinary teamwork and cooperation from both companies; town officials; the Connecticut Department of Transportation; the Connecticut Siting Council; the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control; the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection; the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; the Army Corps of Engineers; and contractors Burns & McDonnell, PAR Electrical Contractors, Bond Brothers, Black & Veatch, McPhee Electric, J. Wm. Foley, Inc. and Siemens.