State energy regulators have given Eversource the go ahead to build a large new substation near Chelsea Creek, off East Eagle Street, and connect it to new transmission lines across the creek in Chelsea and Everett.
The decision by the Energy Facilities Siting Board, published today, is a defeat for nearby residents and the Channel Fish Co., which argued the proposed substation, near the fish company's ammonia tanks, a jet-fuel depot and a planned city soccer field, are a safety hazard. Channel Fish, which bore much of the legal cost of fighting the proposal over the past two years, said stray electricity would interfere with its processing equipment and that any possible explosion at the substation could turn into a giant conflagration involving its ammonia and the jet fuel that would "decimate the surrounding community and cause multiple fatalities."
But state regulators said Eversource had convinced them that not only are the substation and transmission lines needed to ensure a reliable source of electricity in East Boston and surrounding communities, but that the facility would be built to industry standards to ensure Channel Fish's operations won't be affected and that the substation won't simply explode. The state officials who sit on the board added the company has promised to build a fence high enough that no players at the soccer field would be tempted to climb it in the event one of them managed to kick a ball into the substation area.
The state agreed with Eversource that alternatives to the $149 million substation and power-line project - including expansion of an existing Chelsea substation - would either be more expensive or would not be able to provide as much electricity.
Complete ruling (1.2M PDF).