Eversource Energy’s (NYSE:ES) Northern Pass Transmission said it is “shocked and outraged by” the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee’s (SEC) Feb. 1 decision to deny the Northern Pass project application.
“The process failed to comply with New Hampshire law and did not reflect the substantial evidence on the record,” Northern Pass claimed in its Feb. 1 statement. “As a result, the most viable near-term solution to the region’s energy challenges, as well as $3 billion of [New Hampshire] job, tax, and other benefits, are now in jeopardy. Clearly, the SEC process is broken and this decision sends a chilling message to any energy project contemplating development in the Granite State. We will be seeking reconsideration of the SEC’s decision, as well as reviewing all options for moving this critical clean energy project forward.”
As TransmissionHub reported on Nov. 2, 2017, Lee Olivier, executive vice president, Enterprise Energy Strategy and Business Development, Eversource, said during the company’s 3Q17 earnings call that the SEC had scheduled a written decision on the project for no later than March 31, 2018.
Representatives for the SEC and for the Counsel for the Public at the state Office of the Attorney General – listed under the SEC’s contact information on its website – could not be immediately reached for comment by press time on Feb. 1.
In its Jan. 12 final brief filed with the SEC, the Counsel for the Public, for instance, claimed that construction of the project would, “in the short term, increase New Hampshire’s [Gross State Product or] GSP and jobs, but less than estimated by the applicants.” The Counsel for the Public also claimed that the evidence by Northern Pass Transmission and Public Service Company of New Hampshire d/b/a Eversource – or the applicants – “that the project will not impact property values or tourism is not persuasive as there is likely to be a negative impact on both.” Among other things, the Counsel for the Public further claimed that the project would “pay property taxes to host communities, but the exact amounts and for how long is uncertain.”
According to the project’s website, the 192-mile transmission line project is designed to bring 1,090 MW of clean energy from Hydro-Québec’s hydroelectric plants in Canada to New Hampshire and to the rest of New England. The project would build a new direct current (DC) transmission line from the Canadian border to Franklin, N.H., where a converter terminal would be built to convert the electricity from DC to alternating current (AC), the site noted. From there, a new AC transmission line would carry the energy to an existing substation in Deerfield, N.H., and into New England’s electric grid, according to the site.
The project’s route “eliminates potential visual impacts in the White Mountain National Forest, the Franconia Notch area, the Rocks Estates area, and along the Appalachian Trail by placing an additional 52 miles of the route underground, for a total of 60 miles underground,” the site noted. Northern Pass would use 160 miles of existing transportation corridors, both beneath public roadways and along transmission line corridors where power lines stand today, according to the site. The project would also build an additional 32 miles of new transportation corridor in the North Country on land that was purchased or leased by willing landowners, the site noted.
According to the site, the project’s benefits include 2,600 new jobs during construction, $62m annual energy cost savings for New Hampshire consumers, as well as $30m in additional state and local tax revenue annually.
The SEC decision follows the recent decision by Massachusetts’ officials to select the bid submitted in the Massachusetts Clean Energy solicitation by Eversource and Hydro-Québec to use Northern Pass Transmission to deliver hydropower to the New England grid.
According to the Massachusetts Clean Energy website, the distribution companies and state Department of Energy Resources have completed the evaluation of bids received in response to the Section 83D Clean Energy request for proposals.
The bid evaluation process included monitoring and assistance by an independent evaluator, the site noted.
“Northern Pass Transmission, Hydro was determined to be the winning bid, which represents an annual purchase of 9,450,000 [MWh] of clean energy generation for the commonwealth’s electric customers,” the site said.
The final acceptance of the bid and the award of a contract is conditional upon the successful negotiation of the contract and required regulatory approval at the state Department of Public Utilities, the site noted.
On Jan. 8, Eversource said that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has released its final record of decision (ROD) allowing Northern Pass Transmission to bury about 11 miles of transmission lines in areas along existing roads through the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF).
The USFS will issue the necessary Special Use Authorization to allow the project to be buried within the WMNF, the company said.
As TransmissionHub reported on Nov. 16, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy said at that time that it has issued an ROD and approved the Presidential permit for the proposed project.
In its Jan. 8 statement regarding the USFS ROD, Eversource said that with those approvals secured, the project was well positioned to begin construction in mid-2018, and to bring the hydroelectric power into the region by late 2020.