Chances to Speak Up

Building an energy project is a long and involved process that often requires developers, policy makers, and others to work together, sometimes through disagreement and controversy.

Public input is also a critical component in developing a successful project.  Last week, the Northern Pass received a draft environmental review that includes a significant amount of public input. The Department of Energy, which issued the report, will continue to take comment for the next three months.  The public will soon get a chance to weigh in on a proposed natural gas pipeline, too, as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Kinder Morgan hold separate rounds of hearings on the Northeast Energy Direct Project. Both of these projects will also be open for comment in their respective state-level reviews.

In addition to making comments at an open meeting, the public can submit written comments on these projects.  It’s a process in place to ensure everyone has a voice in determining the energy future that we’ll all share.

Old Salem power plant falls as new one rises
Marblehead Reporter, 23 July 2015

Massachusetts Senate vote aims to prompt more solar projects
Springfield Republican, 23 July 2015

Offshore Wind Farm Raises Hopes of U.S. Clean Energy Backers
New York Times, 23 July 2015

Durham town officials, residents tour proposed transmission line route
Foster’s Daily Democrat, 22 July 2015

Northern Pass report says burial of transmission line to cost between $1.8 billion and $2.1 billion
Concord Monitor, 22 July 2015

How to submit comments on the Energy Dept.’s Northern Pass Report
New Hampshire Union Leader, 21 July 2015

Pipeline meetings to be held this week
Nashua Telegraph, 27 July 2015

Kinder Morgan plans to hold public meetings for proposed pipeline
New Hampshire Union Leader, 22 July 2015

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Draft EIS Highlights Northern Pass Benefits

The Department of Energy’s draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), released on July 21, marks a major milestone for Northern Pass and highlights many of the key benefits the project will provide for New Hampshire and the region.

The DEIS found that Northern Pass as currently proposed will:

  • Have a “Total Average Scenic Impact” of 1.79, on a scale of 0 to 5, which is considered “low” to “very low.”
  • Generate more than $564 million of additional economic output within New Hampshire during construction
  • Increase annual statewide property tax collections by approximately $29 million
  • Save New Hampshire customers between $18.3 million and $21.6 million in electric energy costs annually
  • Create 5,369 jobs in New Hampshire during construction, as well as hundreds of permanent jobs
  • Reduce regional carbon emissions by 8 percent or 3.5 million tons

Other notable conclusions include:

  • Northern Pass poses no health risks associated with EMFs
  • Northern Pass will not have “population-level effects to any protected species”
  • Northern Pass will have noise levels well below EPA guidance levels

The DEIS further seeks to quantify the extent to which the Project will affect certain areas of the state and economic sectors. While it suggested the Project may have some impact on tourism, it acknowledged no evidence exists to support that conclusion.

A potential impact on property values is also not assessed specifically for this report. DOE, rather, made an estimate based on a few prior studies and acknowledged that its estimate “likely overstates” the potential impact for segments paralleling existing lines – which comprises the vast majority of the Northern Pass route.

The DEIS also outlines some areas that warrant further consideration, primarily regarding the potential view impacts related to overhead lines. These and other conclusions in the DEIS will help inform our forthcoming proposal to the State of New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee. As we’ve stated, we plan to propose a new, balanced plan in the near future that incorporates the feedback we’ve heard in discussions across the state and will address those concerns while providing substantial economic benefits to New Hampshire.

Northern Pass is well-positioned to help solve our energy challenges and secure a more reliable, diverse and clean energy future. We look forward to the upcoming public meetings and beginning the State permitting process.

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Draft EIS is a Key Milestone for Project

After an initial review of the draft Environmental Impact statement, we are pleased with the report and we believe it validates that this is the right project for New Hampshire and New England.

The significant work that the US DOE has submitted is a key milestone for the Northern Pass Transmission project.

It reaffirms that the project will address the critical needs concerning New Hampshire and the region’s energy supply by providing a diverse, base load supply of low-carbon electricity.

Moreover, the DOE recognizes that the project must strike an appropriate balance between project cost, impact and benefits. This echoes what we have been hearing over the last year from the many New Hampshire citizens we’ve spoken to.

The focus now turns to our state permitting process. And, our intention now is to bring to the NH Site Evaluation Committee a proposal which strikes the necessary balance and that will be broadly supported.

We have always known that this project makes sense for our customers and we are proud that Eversource is the company that will deliver these energy solutions to benefit customers throughout the region.

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Northern Pass Statement on the Issuance of Draft Environmental Impact Statement

The Department of Energy (DOE) today issued its draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Northern Pass Transmission project, representing a key milestone in the permitting process. Our team has begun analyzing the DEIS, and we encourage those who are interested to do the same. The document is available online [http://www.northernpasseis.us/library/draft-eis/], and will be available in electronic or hard copy form at many town libraries along the project route.

A little more than a year ago, the DOE released a list of alternatives it would evaluate as part of its review, which allowed us to also study some of those options. We’ve been considering these alternatives as we’ve continued to seek candid feedback about our proposed route from a range of stakeholders. We are optimistic that the DEIS shares some of the same conclusions we have reached regarding the feasibility of certain route alternatives, and we look forward to reviewing their findings.

New Hampshire and the region are facing an energy crisis. The latest published data shows that the region has the highest electricity prices in the continental United States, and New Hampshire has the fourth highest prices among the 50 states. Customers and elected officials have been calling for solutions and hoping for progress. Access to new resources is essential. We continue to believe that Northern Pass is an important part of the answer. The issuance of the DEIS represents another step toward making that solution a reality.

In the near future, we intend to provide the public with an update on any changes to the Northern Pass route that we may propose as a result of the stakeholder input we have received over the last two years and our review of the DEIS. Our objective is to submit to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) a balanced plan that is broadly supported and that will deliver much-needed clean power, lower energy costs, and significant economic benefits to the residents of New Hampshire, while also minimizing impacts to New Hampshire’s natural resources and landscapes.

The New Hampshire SEC review process will now progress on a parallel path with the federal permitting efforts. After we provide our public update, the next milestone for Northern Pass will be the public meetings in each county along the route, which will precede our SEC filing. We will hold those public meetings in the near future.

Northern Pass will provide New Hampshire with many unique economic benefits, while delivering affordable, clean and reliable power to both the state and the region for decades.

We have spent the last two years listening to the people of New Hampshire, and we recognize the need to enhance the project in a way that will balance the economics of a large-scale energy project with the need to minimize impacts to New Hampshire’s landscape. We look forward to completing our review of the DEIS, to sharing with you the results of our efforts in the near future, and to hearing from the people of New Hampshire as we begin the state siting and public comment process.

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Low numbers, high volatility

A mild start to the summer helped keep power demand and prices in check in June. In fact, last month saw the lowest wholesale power prices, lowest natural gas prices, and second lowest demand in the 12 years the region’s grid operator, ISO-New England, has been keeping track.

The price of electricity is tied directly to the price of natural gas, which fuels more than half the power plants in the region. ISO June NumbersAs the ISO points out, “the swing in prices over just five months, going from the third-highest power price during February to the lowest in June, underscores the price volatility attributable to pipeline infrastructure constraints.”

Added pipeline capacity and additional sources of clean energy are repeatedly identified as key solutions to this problem. Yet many of the projects proposed to accomplish this are surrounded by debate and controversy, calling into question how quickly the region’s challenges will be addressed.

 

Region’s wholesale power price plummets in June
Worcester Business Journal, 16 July 2015

Natural gas tops coal as top source of electricity in US
CNBC, 14 July 2015

Wholesale electricity prices and demand in New England
ISO-Newswire, 15 July 2015

Pipeline moves forward, despite lack of customers
Boston Globe, 17 July 2015

Hydro, wind power could face tug-of-war in Beacon Hill energy talks
New Bedford Standard Times, 14 July 2015

Gov. Hassan wants more public input on pipeline plans
New Hampshire Union Leader, 16 July 2015

Big solar’s future for NH in doubt
New Hampshire Union Leader, 18 July 2015

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Going with the flow

While communities throughout New Hampshire and New England ponder various wind, solar, and natural gas energy projects, hydropower stands out for boosting electric reliability in the region and helping some states reach ambitious renewable energy goals.

Data from the Energy Information Administration show imports of Canadian electricity, mostly hydropower, into the northeast increasing in recent years.  The Pacific Northwest is the only area to export power to Canada.  Soruce: www.eia.gov

Data from the Energy Information Administration show imports of Canadian electricity, mostly hydropower, into the northeast increasing in recent years. The Pacific Northwest is the only area to export power to Canada. Soruce: www.eia.gov

Now, a continued strain on energy supplies, the rising cost of electricity, and mounting pressure on policy makers to prioritize clean energy initiatives are prompting some to look to hydropower to meet even more of New England’s electricity needs.

 

Rejected Once, Regulators To Decide Whether to Again Consider Antrim Wind Farm
NHPR, 6 July 2015

Derry chosen as community for solar program
New Hampshire Union Leader, 8 July 2015

AG Maura Healey’s office to study regional natural gas capacity
Springfield Republican, 7 July 2015

Power trade rises between US & Canada, boosting reliability
Utility Dive, 10 July 2015

Public forums held to discuss Vermont’s energy future
WCAX, 8 July 2015

Editorial: We need energy
Providence Journal, 2 July 2015

Region’s electricity prices expected to keep rising
Taunton Daily Gazette, 5 July 2015

Make our nation a leader in developing energy answers
Nashua Telegraph, 6 July 2015

Billionaire Clean Energy Advocate Visits N.H., Doesn’t Reveal 2016 Picks
NHPR, 10 July 2015

Baker’s bill would boost hydropower supply from Canada
Boston Globe, 9 July 2015

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Summer winds

Maybe it’s the sunshine, or the gentle breezes of summer, but there has been a notable number of headlines in the last few weeks about the rise of renewable energy, especially wind and solar.

Utilities and policy makers are increasingly looking to renewables as they strive to balance the cost and environmental impacts of producing and using electricity. More affordable energy is especially important for homeowners and businesses in New Hampshire and elsewhere in New England, where more individuals are becoming more involved in deciding where their electricity comes from. Some even argue that renewable energy could drive the future of New England’s economy.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on power plant emissions calls into question how hard policy makers will now push to add renewable energy to the grid, especially considering feasibility, siting challenges and competition from other fossil fuels.

 

Renewables to Beat Fossil Fuels With $3.7 Trillion Solar Boom
Bloomberg, 23 June 2015

NH solar projects scramble for millions generated by RGGI carbon tax
New Hampshire Union Leader

How Smart Is It To Rely On Natural Gas In Today’s Energy Markets?
Forbes, 17 June 2015

Challenges loom as New England plants retire
Electric Coop Today

Another View — Lou D’Allesandro: To help NH businesses, lower electricity rates, not taxes
New Hampshire Union Leader, 25 June 2015

Report shines light on solar benefits
Boston Herald, 25 June 2015

Redhook plans to produce its own electricity
Foster’s, 25 June 2015

Sea Change: Challenge of climate change presents opportunity for new energy
Portland Press Herald

Eversource moves ahead with mercury reduction plans despite Supreme Court ruling
Concord Monitor

Could NH be powered by 100% sun, wind and water? Probably not, but maybe yes?
Nashua Telegraph

Gas pipeline deal OKed by PUC staff
New Hampshire Union Leader

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Value-added power

2014 was a record-breaking year for renewable energy, with the installation of new  wind, solar, hydro, and other natural sources of power outpacing traditional sources of generation worldwide. The U.S. Department of Energy also recently announced it has secured billions of dollars for a center to help investors support clean energy projects. Leaders, from political to religious, are calling for a greener grid.

As policies and projects work toward a cleaner energy future, there is the potential for significant job growth. Modernizing the grid and developing clean energy technologies will require thousands of skilled workers, adding to the benefits of renewable energy investments both here in New Hampshire and elsewhere.

Energy Jobs by Sector

According to jobs tracking analysis by Environmental Entrepreneurs, these renewable energy and associated manufacturing sectors announced more than 30,000 jobs in the U.S. in 2014. An additional 16,000+ jobs were announced in the areas of transportation, recycling, and building efficiency. Source: E2, www.cleanenergyworksforus.org

 

Record Year for Renewable Power; Heat, Transport Stay Fossil
AP via New York Times, 17 June 2015

Canada passes major wind energy milestone
Fierce Energy, 16 June 2015

Success of ‘Solarize RI’ campaign brings new renewable energy opportunities
WPRI, 17 June 2015

Back at work, Biden touts clean energy to investors
USA Today, 16 June 2015

As the pope opines on climate change, O’Malley releases a clean energy agenda
Washington Post, 18 June 2015

Eversource pledges local jobs
New Hampshire Union Leader, 17 June 2015

Collin O’Mara and Michael Sabitoni: Block Island Wind Farm could launch new American energy revolution
Providence Journal, 22 June 2015

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Challenges today securing energy for tomorrow

What will it take to truly transform the grid? Will tomorrow’s energy still benefit from today’s shale gas boom? Will wind, sun, and water fuel the future? One report suggests it’s possible to run America entirely on renewables within a generation, but industry observers are quick to note the incredible amount of logistical and political coordination required to make that possible.

Overcoming the challenges that surround energy development is something stakeholders in New England and around the country are working on. Meanwhile energy companies and regulators are feeling more pressure to lower greenhouse gas emissions, find cleaner energy sources, and lower costs for consumers.

US 100 Percent Renewable

Data from the study “100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States,” as relayed online by Vox.

The links below are referenced in the article above

The Three Seismic Shifts That Are Shaking Up the World of Energy
Bloomberg Business, 10 June 2015

“The rise in U.S. crude output has simply been explosive. America added 1.6 million barrels a day in 2014, taking production past its previous peak in 1970. It also made the U.S. the world’s largest crude producer, knocking Saudi Arabia off its perch.”

Amid low prices, US oil output may be nearing peak
Boston Globe, 6 June 2015

“But some industry analysts say projections of peak production are shaky because it’s difficult to project future drilling costs and global energy prices. Joe Petrowski, managing partner at Mercantor Partners, a Framingham energy investment and management firm, said drilling technologies will keep improving, thus allowing drillers to extract ever more oil and gas from shale fields at lower costs.”

Vermont governor to sign renewable energy bill
AP via WCAX, 11 June 2015

“Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin is planning to sign into law a bill that retools Vermont’s system for promoting renewable energy.”

Here’s what it would take for the US to run on 100% renewable energy
Vox, 9 June 2015

“No one can say any longer, at least not without argument, that moving the US quickly and entirely to renewables is impossible. Here is a way to do it, mapped out in some detail. But it is extremely ambitious.”

Part 2: What states are doing on energy
CommonWealth, 8 June 2015

“The challenge for governors, legislators, and regulators is to size expenditures appropriately to meet our near- and mid-term needs, while keeping us on the right path for the energy system of the future.”

Clean Power Plan: Utility Industry Says It Will Do The ‘Right Thing’
Forbes, 11 June 2015

“’With all the activity we have had with stakeholders, this industry has moved the ball forward,’ says Nick Akins, chief executive of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power and the newly-elected chair of the Edison Electric Institute, during a press gathering at this week’s conference.”

Pipeline debate lives on
Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 14 June 2015

“A realistic solution, as we’ve said previously, requires more of everything — renewable resources certainly, conservation absolutely, and added pipeline capacity for now. The issues and solutions occupy all our backyards.”

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Currents of change

There were two significant developments last week that have the potential to change the shape of New England’s energy landscape. The U.S. Department of Energy released a report that recommends the permitting of a clean energy transmission project and the New Hampshire Legislature passed a bill that lays the framework for completing deregulation in the state.

At first blush, these seem to be two very different energy issues. One deals with adding clean, renewable hydropower to the grid and the other anticipates the divestiture of the generating assets of the state’s largest utility. Yet they share the common goal that nearly every pending energy proposal seeks to claim – to help ease the burden of the region’s high energy prices.

There are, however, many milestones that energy projects must meet on the path to becoming reality – both in the form of permitting and earning support. Along the way, compromise and reason are keys to ensuring projects like these help solve the challenge of high electricity costs.

 

Canadian power line project for New England advances
Boston Globe, 4 June 2015

“TDI’s $1.2-billion proposal would involve burying 154 miles of cables under Lake Champlain and over land in Vermont. It is one of several proposed transmission projects to bring non-fossil fuel electricity into New England. Other proposals include an undersea cable from Maine backed by National Grid , an overland transmission route supported by Eversource , and a joint proposal by National Grid and Emera, a Maine utility.”

House OKs bill key to settling with Eversource
New Hampshire Union Leader, 3 June 2015

“Supporters say the settlement will provide stable electric rates for Eversource customers for years to come instead of the rate volatility of recent years. And they say it will save ratepayers $380 million in costs over the next five years.”

Study: Transmission Line Under Lake Would Have Minor Environmental Impact
Vermont Public Radio, 4 June 2015

“In essence, the study says that if this project doesn’t work out, Vermont will still have to do something to meet demand. It’s possible meeting demands through other means would bring non-renewable energy into the state’s portfolio, so not building a transmission line that’s expected to bring hydro-electric power from Canada to Vermont carries some environmental risk.”

Vote clears way for sale of N.H. power plants; payment for scrubber set
Concord Monitor, 4 June 2015

“’Many of us made a campaign promise to do what we could to control electric costs in the state,’ Republican House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan said in a statement. ‘This is a proactive measure that will save New Hampshire electric ratepayers millions of dollars.’”

Pipeline backer: Shortage is ‘painful for families’
New Hampshire Union Leader, 6 June 2015

“In a June 2 filing with the PUC, Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) notes New Hampshire and the New England region ‘are consistently experiencing the highest electricity and natural gas prices in the continental United States,’ which it claims can be ‘significantly reduced through contracting for and building additional pipeline capacity in the region.’”

A long road lies ahead for pipeline plan
Keene Sentinel, 7 June 2015

“The project won’t need a input from the N.H. Legislature, and local zoning requirements are unlikely to stand in the way of Kinder Morgan’s path once federal approval is granted.

‘There isn’t a simple process,” Silverman said. “It would be nice if there was.’”

Poll: New Hampshire split on energy projects
AP via Foster’s Daily Democrat, 30 May 2015

“The WMUR Granite State poll shows 18 percent of New Hampshire adults are very familiar with the Northern Pass project to bring hydro-electric power from Canada through New Hampshire. Among those who have at least some familiarity with the project, 42 percent support it and 34 percent oppose it.”

Monitor Board of Contributors: Solutions to big problems become possible only when ideology is absent
Concord Monitor, 4 June 2015

“There are major, serious problems to be solved in our world, nation and state: addressing climate change, providing affordable and effective health care to all, reforming tax laws to be more fair and equitable, finding the right level of regulation so we can have both a healthy environment and robust private enterprise. None of this can be solved by ideologues or rigid ideologies.”

Lights On: Energy Customers Grapple With Soaring Prices
CBS Boston, 1 June 2015

“Utility company phone lines have been lighting up with customers seeking answers on the amount their bill indicates they now owe.”

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