Northern Pass disappointed in SEC decision regarding New Hampshire project

Northern Pass on May 24 said that it is disappointed in the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee’s (SEC) decision to reject the company’s motion asking the SEC to reconsider its denial of a siting certificate.

As TransmissionHub reported in March, the SEC voted to suspend its Feb. 1 decision denying the Northern Pass project application, through which the company sought a certificate of site and facility.

As noted in the SEC’s March order, Northern Pass Transmission and Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH) d/b/a Eversource Energy (NYSE:ES), in October 2015 filed with the SEC the application, seeking approval of the siting, construction, and operation of the Northern Pass project, which, according to the project’s website, is a 192-mile transmission line project 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 SEC’s March order noted that as authorized by statute, a subcommittee was appointed to hear and consider the evidence for and against the application. Following more than 70 days of adjudicative hearings, the subcommittee voted to deny the application, the order said, noting that the subcommittee has not issued a written order on its deliberations.

Northern Pass on Feb. 28 filed a “motion for rehearing and request to vacate” the Feb. 1 decision and resume incomplete deliberations, the order noted, adding that the subcommittee on March 12 held a public hearing on the pending motion and voted to suspend the decision.

In April, Northern Pass Transmission and PSNH (collectively referred to as the applicants) filed with the SEC the motion seeking “a rehearing of the decision and order denying application for certificate of site and facility dated March 30” of a subcommittee of the SEC.

In that motion, the applicants claimed that the SEC’s order denying the application is unlawful, unjust, and unreasonable. For instance, the applicants claimed that the subcommittee failed to assess conditions proposed by the applicants. The applicants said that those conditions “were an integral element of the evidence the applicants presented to meet their burden of proof, and could be imposed to alleviate or mitigate the subcommittee’s concerns about potential interference with the orderly development of the region.”

According to the SEC’s May 24 “transcripts of rehearing deliberations,” SEC Commissioner Kathryn Bailey said, in part: “I don’t think that the subcommittee could craft conditions, since we didn’t fully understand the impact, based on the evidence that we received in the record. So, I don’t think that we failed to consider the conditions, because we couldn’t consider conditions, because we didn’t have enough evidence to know whether there was an undue impact on orderly development or not.”

Eversource New Hampshire President Bill Quinlan said in the company’s May 24 statement: “We intend to pursue all options for making this critical clean energy project a reality, along with the many economic and environmental benefits for New Hampshire and the region. This opportunity to significantly lower energy costs for customers should be given great weight. Large infrastructure projects of this scale often face challenges during the siting process, and we will continue to work with all of the stakeholders to present a project that receives New Hampshire’s approval.”

Northern Pass said that the project has received these approvals:

  • Federal Approvals: U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) final environmental impact statement; DOE record of decision; Presidential permit; U.S. Forest Service final record of decision
  • State approvals: New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services; wetland final decision; shoreland protection final decision; alteration of terrain final decision; Section 401 water quality certificate; New Hampshire Department of Transportation; New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) authorization to commence business as a public utility; PUC authorization to cross public lands and waters; PUC approval of PSNH lease

Northern Pass also said that the project has received the Québec provincial permit and approval from the National Energy Board of Canada.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3058 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 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 clinares@endeavorb2b.com.