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City Council votes to support resident participation in Eversource project

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City Council

Eversource Energy is proposing to construct and operate a new transmission substation facility located on the Chelsea Creek waterfront on East Eagle Street in East Boston.

The Substation has been opposed by elected officials, residents, and experts as it would result in the concentration of potentially dangerous and unnecessary infrastructure, obstruction of neighborhood access to open space and the waterfront, and an increased risk to neighborhood climate resiliency. The proximity of the proposed substation being 300 feet to residential housing, 60 feet to recreational spaces, and 450 feet to combustible fuel storage tanks remains a serious concern.

Eversource has not provided adequate interpretation services or properly translated documents. By failing to meet the required language access requirements, Eversource has made it nearly impossible for non-English speakers to participate throughout the process.

Currently, two separate legal challenges related to the substation are outstanding under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act regarding a failure of adequate process and notification to the Spanish-speaking population of East Boston.

Eversource was required to evaluate site alternatives to the proposed electrical substation, of which the largest single user of electricity from the proposed substation would be Logan Airport. Furthermore, the Suffolk Downs development area, the largest target growth area for increased demand, was not taken into account. Both locations are currently considering electrical infrastructure investments and upgrades. There has been no formal alternative site analysis to colocate electrical distribution upgrades to include a substation at either site.

East Boston is a peninsula neighborhood surrounded by water on three sides and highly susceptible to flooding and climate change. If sea levels rise 21 inches by 2050, a 100-year storm will flood much of Condor Street and the Chelsea Creek shoreline. A sea level rise of 36 inches by 2070 could put the site under a foot or more of water. ​

New flood mapping data from the Boston Water and Sewer Commission shows that the site may be more vulnerable to flooding than previously thought. Current climate modeling does not take into account extreme weather events like hurricanes and storm water floodings. The City of Boston’s own climate resilience studies have shown this area is at an increased risk of future flooding.

Eversource failed to hold a public hearing in the East Boston community in the original review process for this project, denying the East Boston community an opportunity to participate in the discussion of the need for this project.

This week, the Council voted to adopt a resolution in support of a nonbinding public advisory opinion ballot measure regarding a proposed eversource substantiation in East Boston to meaningfully include the participation of all residents and ratepayers. A non-binding advisory opinion ballot measure will ensure participation in a public utility approval process, and ensure that residents of East Boston and the City of Boston as a whole can meaningfully participate.