New Hampshire PUC seeks legal papers on Eversource, Northern Pass easements

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission said Sept. 15 that it will need to see legal documents before it can rule upon the plans of Eversource Energy d/b/a Public Service Co. of New Hampshire (PSNH) to lease certain rights of way to Northern Pass Transmission LLC.

“The Commission has determined that it cannot complete its facial review of the leases in this docket without considering certain legal issues,” the PUC said in its order. “Accordingly, in this order, the Commission requires legal memoranda addressing the scope of some of Eversource Energy’s easements and their transferability to Northern Pass Transmission, LLC.”

The wording of the deeds raises several questions that the commission may need to resolve, the PUC goes on to say in its order. The PUC wants legal briefs filed by Oct. 7.

Eversource filed a petition in October 2015 seeking approval of a lease agreement with Northern Pass Transmission (NPT).  Eversource is a public utility operating under the laws of New Hampshire. NPT is a limited liability company organized under New Hampshire law to develop, design, build and own a high voltage electric transmission line and related facilities in the state.

NPT and Eversource are both subsidiaries of Eversource Energy, a utility holding company

The proposed Northern Pass transmission line would run roughly 192 miles from the New Hampshire border with Canada to the Eversource substation in Deerfield, N.H.

The proposed lease between Eversource and NPT is the agreement whereby portions of Eversource’s rights of way (ROWs) would be leased to NPT for construction of the NPT line.

The ROWs at issue are located in 19 municipalities and are principally comprised of Eversource easements from private property owners and land owned by Eversource.

The lease provides that NPT would have exclusive use of 781 acres of the easement rights, while approximately 472 acres would be designated for shared use between Eversource and NPT. There are approximately 74 acres of remaining land also included in the lease that have not been assigned a specific use.

The PUC said it wants to look at legal filings examining if any wording in the agreements would restrict lease of the ease to a third party. The PUC also wants to know if the holder of a utility easement would have the right to lease “less than all of the easement rights to a third party?”

The PUC also questions if the grant of a utility easement “over and across” a parcel of land grants the right to install an underground transmission line.

The PUC also posed several other questions about the scope of the rights being conveyed.

Northern Pass secured a key regulatory approval in July when ISO New England (ISO-NE) officially determined that the project can reliably interconnect with the regional electric grid. Northern Pass said in its August newsletter that the redesigned proposal will bring 1,090 MW to the region and includes 60 miles of underground line.

The order calling for the legal briefs, NO. 25,943, was issued in case DE 15-464.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 2807 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 13 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at corinar@pennwell.com.