Massachusetts EDCs terminate conditional selection of Northern Pass, continue working with NECEC project

The Massachusetts electric distribution companies (EDCs) have terminated the conditional selection of the Northern Pass Hydro project, according to a March 28 post on the Massachusetts Clean Energy website.

As noted on the Northern Pass project website, the 192-mile transmission line 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.

In a separate March 28 statement, Eversource Energy’s (NYSE:ES) Northern Pass Transmission (NPT) said: “We understand today’s decision by the Electric Distribution Companies (EDCs) to terminate the conditional selection of the Northern Pass Transmission hydro proposal, given the status of the New Hampshire permitting process. Despite recent delays, we continue to believe that Northern Pass is the best project for the region and New Hampshire, and we intend to pursue all options for making it a reality.”

As TransmissionHub reported, NPT on Feb. 1 said that it would seek reconsideration of a decision by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) denying the Northern Pass project application, through which the company sought a certificate of site and facility.

The SEC recently voted to suspend that Feb. 1 decision.

Northern Pass said in its March 28 statement that while the SEC’s decision has caused delay, the company will continue to urge the SEC’s members to fully evaluate the required statutory criteria, as well as thoroughly consider all of the conditions that could provide the basis for granting approval.

Northern Pass noted that Eversource and Hydro-Québec remain committed to the project’s success, adding, “No other project has obtained the necessary approvals from federal permitting authorities in the U.S. and Canada, and secured agreements with major contractors and the IBEW.”

According to the statement, Northern Pass has received such state approvals as “PUC authorization to cross public lands and waters,” as well as such federal approvals as a Presidential permit. In Canada, it has received a Québec Provincial Permit, as well as approval by the National Energy Board.

The statement added that three approvals remain:

  • SEC – certificate of site and facility
  • U.S. Forest Service Special Use Permit (draft issued; final permit expected soon)
  • U.S. Army Corps Section 404 Permit (expected following issuance of SEC permit)

As TransmissionHub reported, NPT in January said that officials in Massachusetts announced that the bid submitted by Eversource and Hydro-Québec to use NPT to deliver hydropower to the New England grid was selected in the Massachusetts Clean Energy solicitation.

According to another post on the Massachusetts Clean Energy site, the distribution companies and state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) completed the evaluation of bids received in response to the Section 83D Clean Energy request for proposals (RFP).

“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 post said.

The site, in a Feb. 16 DOER update, said that in light of recent developments – and in order to execute long-term contracts by March 27 and subsequently submit them for Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) approval by April 25 – the EDCs, in coordination with the DOER and with participation of the independent evaluator on Feb. 14:

  • Notified Northern Pass that the EDCs will continue conditional contract negotiations with the project, with the option of ceasing discussions with Northern Pass and terminating its conditional selection by March 27
  • Offered to enter into concurrent conditional contract negotiations with the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) 100% Hydro project

That DOER update said that if contract negotiations are not successful with Northern Pass, then the EDCs are in a position to proceed with the next best project that satisfies the policy directives contained in Section 83D.

In its March 28 post, the Massachusetts Clean Energy site noted that the EDCs are in the process of concluding contract negotiations with the NECEC 100% Hydro project, and intend to execute agreements with NECEC Hydro for submittal to the DPU, assuming negotiations are concluded successfully.

AVANGRID (NYSE:AGR) and its subsidiary Central Maine Power (CMP), in a separate March 28 statement, confirmed that the NECEC transmission project will advance as the sole clean energy solution in the Massachusetts Green Communities Act Section 83D RFP for long-term contracts for clean energy projects after the Massachusetts EDCs terminated the conditional selection of the Northern Pass Transmission proposal.

CMP proposed the $950m NECEC in a joint bid with Hydro-Québec for a 20-year contract to deliver renewable energy from Québec to the New England grid in response to the 83D Clean Energy RFP, the statement noted.

The NECEC includes a 1,200-MW high-voltage direct current transmission line linking the electrical grids in Québec and New England, according to the statement. CMP submitted applications for all state and federal permits in mid-2017, the statement noted, adding that the company expects to receive state approvals later this year and final federal permits in early 2019.

The distribution companies require that all necessary agreements be finalized and executed as soon as possible, and will continue contract negotiations with the NECEC project to achieve that conclusion, the statement noted. If acceptable contract terms for the NECEC proposal are agreed upon, those agreements are anticipated to be filed with the DPU by the April 25 date stipulated in the 83D RFP.

“The NECEC will supply renewable energy to Massachusetts for twenty years, and it will continue to deliver benefits for New England consumers for decades beyond,” AVANGRID CEO James Torgerson said in the statement, in part. “It is another example of how the AVANGRID companies are providing effective solutions to the region’s complex energy challenges. We are committed to investing in clean energy infrastructure, and delivering on the promise of the NECEC proposal.”

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.