So much development is planned in part of Dorchester that Eversource is planning a new electricity transmission line to meet the anticipated demand from new homes and businesses.
The utility company recently announced the underground transmission line would run about two miles from Andrew Square in South Boston to Savin Hill in eastern Dorchester. The project is intended to connect two substations and increase power-flow reliability.
Officials say the two substations serve about 80,000 customers in the area, but the demand for power is expected to increase with developments like a combined restaurant-apartment complex across the street from the Andrew Square T station, and developments expected at the former sites of Bayside Expo Center and The Boston Globe.
Michael Durand, a spokesman for Eversource, said the substation connector line is meant to accommodate this coming demand.
“By creating a high-voltage connection between the two existing substations, this particular project will provide additional options for getting power to where it’s needed most to meet the current and future demand for electricity,” Durand told WGBH News.
Residents of the Andrew Square and Savin Hill neighborhoods are getting a first glimpse at the preliminary plans. The proposed line would start at the substation near the Andrew Square T stop, snake across Old Colony Avenue and Morrissey Boulevard, and end at a substation near Dorchester Avenue.
Consultants and Eversource officials outnumbered the handful residents at the initial open house Wednesday night at St. Monica-St. Augustine Catholic Church in South Boston. More than a dozen of them were scattered across the room with poster boards detailing the project's timeline and steps. Another open house is scheduled for Thursday night at the Boston Teachers Union hall in Dorchester.
A pair of meeting-goers who identified themselves only as Andrew Square residents said their biggest concerns were potential easements and impacts to public transportation, but that the project didn’t seem like it would inconvenience their side of the neighborhood too much.
“If [the proposed line] stays along the streets, people who drive through this area would be most affected,” one of the two meeting-goers said.
The proposal is in its nascent stage and is subject to change as Eversource collects the necessary approvals from various agencies and the city, but consultant and project manager Nathan Dennis said Wednesday the path for the transmission line they’re offering limits inconvenience to residents by running along the multi-lane major thoroughfares rather than weaving through the streets where people live.
“The route tries to avoid residential areas as much as possible,” Dennis explained. He said the company is also looking into coordinating with other construction projects as a way to reduce neighborhood inconvenience.
Durand said the Andrew Square-Dewar Street line is one of several, regionally significant projects with the potential to impact “tens of thousands” of customers beyond the local community where the two-mile transmission line is expected to be buried.
It’s too early for cost estimates, but construction is planned to begin in late spring 2020, assuming all permitting and approval deadlines are met. Officials with Eversource say the company is aiming to start the process with a petition to the state for project approval before the end of the year.