Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards announced this week she will hold a hearing on the proposed Eversource substation in an effort to bring transparency to East Boston residents and ensure the community’s questions about the proposal are answered.
Last year Eversource filed a Notice of Project Change and sought approval to move the proposed substation 190 feet to the western side of the City Yards lot. Eversource said the two 115-kV transmission lines that would connect to the substation would no longer be routed along Condor and East Eagle Streets if the substation is placed in the western portion of the parcel.
“We deserve a clear understanding about the need for a new substation and what alternatives were looked at,” said Councilor Edwards. “If we really need more electricity, we need to know why a clean energy facility can’t be built and why the facility needs to be built on the Chelsea Creek near a park in a densely populated neighborhood.”
The hearing is scheduled for Friday, May 22nd at 3:30 p.m. and will take place virtually on Zoom due to the coronavirus pandemic. Simultaneous interpretation into Spanish will be available.
Members of the public are invited to testify. Invited participants include representatives from Eversource, GreenRoots, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Massport.
“Eversource has excluded our Spanish speaking neighbors from this process and hasn’t treated our community with respect,” said Edwards. “I hope they see this as an opportunity to change that.”
To get the Zoom link to participate or to submit written testimony, residents can send an email to [email protected]. If you wish to watch the hearing, visit https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv.
Last year, local environmentalists from Eastie and Chelsea gathered at Boston City Hall to deliver 700 postcards to Boston Mayor Martin Walsh asking for the mayor to meet with residents on both sides of the Chelsea Creek to discuss alternatives to placing Eversource’s proposed substation along the creek.
For three years local environmentalists on the Eastie and Chelsea sides of the Chelsea Creek have launched a visual, media and talking campaign against Eversource’s plans to place the substation at the City Yards in Eagle Square.
In 2018 the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) ruled in favor of placing the substation at the City Yards. However, the final ruling came with some provisos. According to the state board the EFSB directed Eversource to enter into discussions with the City of Boston regarding the possible relocation of the new substation on the Chelsea Creek site.
Local activist John Walkey argues that the project represents an increased risk in both communities already bearing a huge environmental burden in the region by playing host to Logan International Airport, highways and jet fuel storage tanks along the Chelsea Creek.
As part of its decision the EFSB directed Eversource to provide an update to the board on the status of discussions between the community and city before construction on the substation commences.
This has given additional time for Eversource, the City of Boston, and residents to iron out the alternative locations for the substation.
Walsh has maintained that the city is in the process of working with Eversource to ensure the substation is in the best possible location for the residents and businesses in Eastie and those along the Chelsea Creek.
The substation was initially slated to be built on an Eversource-owned parcel on Bremen Street. However, under the former late Mayor Thomas Menino, Boston executed a land swap with Eversource. Eversource handed over the Bremen Street parcel so the city could build the new East Boston Branch Library in return for the city-owned parcel in East Eagle Square.