Momentum is building behind various efforts to increase New England’s supply of renewable power. Whether it’s solar, wind, or hydropower, public officials and private developers are working to address key questions about proposed energy projects, including which and what kind of projects to build, where to build them, and how to pay for them.
Setting ambitious renewable energy goals can prove tricky, as Germany is discovering with its Energiewende initiative. Despite the challenges, however, low- and no-carbon sources of power are emerging as the preferred path to the region’s energy future, for both environmental and cost reasons.
Council Votes to Support Northern Pass
Berlin Daily Sun, 24 November 2015
Grant links solar power with horse power
Foster’s Daily Democrat, 24 November 2015
In Windham, state will look beyond local wind ban
VT Digger, 25 November 2015
Quebec premier pushes for long-term hydroelectric power contracts with Massachusetts
Springfield Republican, 13 November 2015
Kuster, Others Call for Review of Energy Projects
Windham Patch, 24 November 2015
Customers emerge for power lines
AP via Rutland Herald, 26 November 2015
Gov. Cuomo to Order Large Increase in Renewable Energy in New York by 2030
New York Times, 22 November 2015
Germany’s green sticker shock
Politico, 29 November 2015
LePage: New England energy costs crippling region
Portland Press Herald, 13 November 2015
Across New Hampshire, we have spoken to many people who like the substantial benefits Northern Pass offers and who support our efforts to bring clean, affordable hydropower into the region. We appreciate this support and wanted to thank those who have added their voice to the growing consensus that we need to invest in our energy infrastructure and move closer toward a cleaner, more affordable energy future. Here are just a few of the supportive words we’ve heard from people around the state:
“The electrical power plants are shutting down, getting old, and our electric bills are skyrocketing. We need something new. We need to get the power. … My neighbors are all like, ‘My energy bill is so high. I’m paying so much for electric.’ I’m like, ‘Well then, we need to do Northern Pass. Otherwise, they’re just going to keep going up.’” – Cheryl Ulm of Laconia
“The power coming through Northern Pass is clean power, generated from water turbines in Canada. This is exactly the kind of clean, sustainable energy strategy we’ve identified as a priority for New Hampshire.” – State Senator Lou D’Allesandro
“The ‘Forward NH’ Plan proposes to balance the energy deficit in New England by delivering clean, renewable, hydroelectric power to New Hampshire and the region while addressing environmental impact concerns. Equally important, the project promises to provide unmistakably clear benefits to New Hampshire by bringing low-cost electricity directly to the state’s residents and businesses, creating hundreds of jobs, and providing millions in tax revenue to local communities.” – Paul Markwardt, VP and Deputy GM of Nashua-based BAE Systems
“We’re a manufacturing company working in New Hampshire. We have 1,100 employees. … We have sophisticated machinery and equipment to compete with the Chinese, which is where all of our competition comes from. The cost of electricity went up significantly last year. Our light bill in July was $347,000. The type of things that we want to do, to expand into, requires a lot of energy. My board of directors have asked me to start looking into southern states where the cost of electricity is about one-third of what it is here.” – John Olson of Whelen Engineering in Charlestown
“Berlin represents a third of the county’s residents and even though the line will not be going through Berlin, don’t forget a lot of those laborers and a lot of those electricians and apprentice candidates will come from the Berlin/Gorham area. The recreational opportunities – many of those folks will come from the Berlin/Gorham area. I don’t downplay the fact that in my community, it’s going to have a pretty significant positive effect. It’s really going to make the glass a lot more than half full.” – Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier
We’ve also received support from a number of the state’s newspapers, particularly for our efforts in addressing concerns about potential view impact and providing substantial benefits unique to New Hampshire. Here is what these newspapers have been saying:
“Northern Pass, Seacoast Reliability Project and the divestiture of power plants are all now progressing because Eversource has listened to stakeholders, respected their testimony and changed the projects to address their concerns. Getting these projects built in a manner that provides wide economic benefits while protecting property values and scenic beauty is vital for New Hampshire and New England, because our energy costs, already high, will increase again this winter and in successive winters until the region increases its electrical capacity.” – Foster’s Daily Democrat and Portsmouth Herald
“Environmentalists who say they favor “green power” such as hydro should warm to a plan that eliminates above-ground lines in the national forest. North Country residents and small businesses should embrace a plan with substantial immediate and long-term benefits. Businesses large and small throughout New Hampshire are already hailing a plan that provides some relief from high electricity costs. Northern Pass and Eversource have made the compromise they needed to make. It is time for on-the-fence politicians and understandably skeptical North Country partisans to do likewise.” – New Hampshire Union Leader
“To ensure reliability and guarantee that the region’s remaining coal plants run as little as possible, we support the Northern Pass project, which does less to exacerbate climate change than fossil fuel options.” – Concord Monitor
Northern Pass submitted a letter today to the Department of Energy supporting Governor Maggie Hassan’s request to reschedule three hearings currently slated for the week before Christmas. We recognize the concerns many people have about trying to attend the hearings in the midst of the holiday season. We believe that holding the hearings in January and scheduling an additional hearing in northern Coös County would facilitate broad participation and minimize inconvenience to the public without causing any unwarranted delay in the overall schedule.
We are disappointed but not surprised that the Forest Society has today taken legal action to circumvent the NH Site Evaluation Committee’s (SEC) authority.
We are confident that our SEC application meets the standards outlined in NH statutes and SEC rules, and that the Forest Society’s claims to the contrary have no basis in fact or law. We will vigorously defend our right to seek state approval for the use of public roads in a manner that is and has been expressly authorized by state law for more than a century. Since the 1850’s, the siting of gas and electric lines have been a legitimate use of public roads because they convey valuable commodities — in the case of Northern Pass, electricity. That is the very purpose of a public right of way — to provide for the conveyance of people, goods and services from point to point, including power, gas, water and sewer lines both above and below ground.
The Northern Pass route is secure, and that fact will be demonstrated through the SEC’s review process. The Forest Society’s lawsuit is irresponsible. It is an attempt to delay an open and transparent review, which has been consistently called for by elected officials from across New Hampshire.
It is hypocritical that the Forest Society has long argued for additional underground construction, but is now challenging our proposal to do just that. It calls into question the organization’s motives, and why it is so distrusting of the state’s public permitting process.
What is at stake is significant: the opportunity to substantially lower energy costs for New Hampshire’s businesses and homeowners, reduce carbon emissions by millions of tons a year, create thousands of construction jobs, and provide nearly $4 billion in unique economic benefits.
At a time when New England’s electric consumers are paying some of the highest rates in the country, it’s important to remember that all six New England governors and the regional grid operator have called for clean energy solutions to address our region’s energy crisis. The Forest Society’s actions today are in direct conflict with achieving this important goal.
Today, Northern Pass filed a response with the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) strongly objecting to attempts by the New England Power Generators Association (NEPGA) to use misinformation and unfounded assertions in order to stall the SEC’s evaluation process. Our response makes it clear that our SEC application meets the standards outlined in NH statutes and SEC rules, and that NEPGA’s claims to the contrary have no basis in fact or law.
At a time when New England’s energy rates are among the highest in the country and regional policy leaders work intently to encourage the development of new power supplies through clean energy projects in the region, it is unfortunate that NEPGA is choosing to protect profits and ignore the challenges faced by businesses and homeowners in the region. The fact is, NEPGA is threatened because Northern Pass will make possible the delivery of much-needed rate relief and energy supply stability, which will hinder NEPGA’s ability to continue to profit from the region’s energy crisis and its effect on consumers.
NEPGA, a trade association composed of some of the largest power generators in the country that operate highly profitable nuclear, coal, oil and gas facilities in New England, has long challenged Northern Pass. To understand why NEPGA would continue to fight a clean energy initiative that will deliver up to 1,090 MW of renewable, competitively priced power to the region, we need to understand their motivation. Consider this excerpt from our Journal from March of this year:
NEPGA’s members control more than 80 percent of all the existing power generation in New England. Every year generators pledge to produce power several years down the road in a process called the Forward Capacity Auction. The FCA guarantees payments to generators for this pledge, essentially a type of “incentive payment.” Electric utility customers in New England currently pay a total of $1 billion in annual capacity payments. The most recent auction results indicate that price tag will increase to $4 billion in three years.
Here in New Hampshire for instance, the owners of Seabrook Station will receive $45 million in capacity payments this year. The most recent auction results indicate that figure will increase to $127 million in 2018, and even more the following year. These increased capacity payments are the result of limited supply and looming power plant retirements that are shrinking our capacity supply. Generators receive bigger payments because when supply goes down prices go up.
Interestingly, these capacity payments are in addition to the money power generators will make on the electricity they produce. Without major solutions to address supply constraints, these capacity prices will stay high, and New England’s electric utility customers will continue to pay extra money to generators just to stay open.
When considering what’s at stake for its members, it’s no wonder NEPGA is resorting to baseless claims to try to derail the thorough and rigorous State approval process for Northern Pass.
Imagine living somewhere power is so plentiful, it’s free. Whether it’s surplus wind power in Texas, vast solar arrays, or low-cost natural gas from the west, the notion of abundant and cheap power is both attractive and controversial.
Although New England’s wholesale power prices hit an all-time low over the summer, constraints in the natural gas pipeline
system that feeds the region’s power plants continue to keep prices volatile in colder months. Wind and solar power, meanwhile, are intermittent sources and not yet suitable replacements for retiring base-load power plants.
A Texas Utility Offers a Nighttime Special: Free Electricity
New York Times, 8 November 2015
Opening of state’s largest solar array celebrated
New Hampshire Union Leader, 9 November 2015
With a Chill in the Air, Thoughts in New England Turn to Heating Bills
Pipeline and Gas Journal, November 2015
Record low prices in summer 2015 New England wholesale electricity market
JD Supra, 3 November 2015
Summer 2015: The lowest natural gas and power prices since 2003
ISO Newswire, 30 October 2015
Defection Would Be a Bad Idea for the Average American
Greentech Media, 3 November 2015
Brown: Closing Pilgrim will zap environment, energy grid
Boston Herald, 4 November 2015
Forecast: Electricity demand flat next 10 years
CommonWealth Magazine, 5 November 2015
Eversource angling for state clean energy deal
Boston Globe, 5 November 2015
The U.S. Department of Energy has released a Supplement to its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Northern Pass project, finding that our proposed route would have the same or fewer impacts than alternative routes analyzed in the draft EIS that was released in July.
As noted in the Supplement, almost all of the work needed to fully analyze the modified route, identified by DOE as Alternative 7, is already encompassed by the draft EIS. Northern Pass is confident that the modified route and Forward NH Plan represent a balanced approach to meeting the region’s energy needs, while offering unique benefits to New Hampshire. The release of the Supplement to the draft EIS underscores that.
Notable takeaways from the Supplement to the EIS include:
Northern Pass in August unveiled a modified route that includes an additional 52 miles of underground technology that eliminates the potential for visual impacts in and around the White Mountain National Forest. In addition to the improved route, Northern Pass announced the Forward NH Plan, a comprehensive package of environmental and economic benefits totaling nearly $4 billion in value.
The DOE will hold several public meetings next month to take comment on the draft EIS and the Supplement. It announced it has extended the comment period and will accept comments until January 4th, 2016. The dates and locations are as follows.
For more information about the draft EIS and Supplement visit http://www.northernpasseis.us/
The opportunity for public input is also available as part of the state siting process, now currently underway. Northern Pass submitted its application for a Certificate of Site and Facility with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) in October. The SEC is expected to hold a series of Public Information Sessions early next year.
For more information on the project and how to submit comments to either the DOE or the NH SEC, visit www.northernpass.us.
Energy prices are plummeting across the country, but the Northeast and New England, especially, aren’t reaping the same benefits. The same low natural gas prices that are forcing nuclear power plants in the area to close aren’t translating to cheaper
electricity here because of constrained pipelines.
Inside FERC November US natural gas average falls 32 cents to $2.06/MMBtu
Platts, 3 November 2015
Natural Gas Heading Toward a 13-Year Low? Don’t Tell Boston
Bloomberg Business, 27 October 2015
Entergy to Close FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in New York
Bloomberg Business, 2 November 2015
NH uses Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to comply with the Clean Power Plan
Concord Monitor, 27 October 2015
N.H. Joins Diverse Coalition Of States, Countries Pledging To Reduce CO2 Emissions
NHPR, 27 October 2015
Dean backs Baker on hydropower
Gloucester Times, 28 October 2015
Heating oil vs. natural gas
CommonWealth, 2 November 2015
High energy costs burden businesses and residents in North Central Mass.
Sentinel & Enterprise, 1 November 2015
The closing of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts will have far reaching implications – from its effect on regional carbon emissions and local economies to the way it influences the approach to key energy infrastructure projects like the Northeast Energy Direct project and Northern Pass.
While Pilgrim’s closure seems to be reigniting the conversation about New England’s energy future, developing solutions still presents significant challenges. Local leaders, business groups, and editorial boards across the region this week continued to push for those solutions and advocate for compromise to achieve a diverse, stable, and affordable energy future.
Ripples expected from closure of nuclear plant
AP via Rutland Herald, 20 October 2015
Local economies take a hit when nuclear plants close
Boston Globe, 17 October 2015
Pilgrim’s closing opens door for new energy projects
Boston Globe, 14 October 2015
Clarence Fanto: Pilgrim’s closing will raise stakes in Tennessee Gas Pipeline Review
Berkshire Eagle, 17 October 2015
Editorial: Northern Pass isn’t ideal, but it’s needed
Concord Monitor, 18 October 2015
Editorial: Pilgrim’s end
Providence Journal, 22 October 2015
Power line opponents give renewables their Keystone moment
Reuters, 20 October 2015
OUR OPINION: State must consider all options for energy portfolio
The Patriot Ledger, 17 October 2015
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (October 19, 2015) – The challenge of solving New England’s energy crisis received a significant boost today as Eversource’s Northern Pass project filed its application for siting approval with New Hampshire state regulators. The much-needed energy solution includes a firm commitment from Hydro-Québec, Canada’s largest energy producer, to provide New Hampshire and New England with a significant amount of reliable, competitively priced, clean hydropower for decades to come, when the energy is most needed, uniquely differentiating Northern Pass from other proposals. The project’s reliable supply from a proven partner comes at a time when the region faces historic energy price and supply challenges. Northern Pass will deliver up to 1,090 megawatts of energy, enough to power more than one million homes. It will lower New England’s annual energy costs by more than $850 million, greatly assist in meeting the region’s clean air goals, and add needed diversity to its energy mix.
“Today’s filing marks another important milestone in our effort to deliver a clean energy solution that our customers desperately need in order to diversify our power supply and stabilize energy prices,” said Bill Quinlan, President of Eversource Operations in New Hampshire. “This is especially important as the region’s existing generation fleet undergoes rapid and significant changes, including the closing of existing power plants that New Hampshire and New England have relied on for decades. Northern Pass, and its clean, affordable power supply of the future, will help to answer the need to replace those units.”
The filing with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) is being made as New Hampshire and the region brace for another winter of increased energy prices, the result of constrained natural gas pipelines and inadequate energy supplies to replace the output from several large fossil-fired and nuclear power plants that have or will soon retire. These pressures continue to keep electricity prices in New Hampshire and New England substantially higher than the U.S. average. The closing of existing nuclear power plants, which emit very little carbon, also challenges the region’s clean air goals. The power provided by Northern Pass will help in the effort, by reducing carbon emissions in the area by up to 3.3 million metric tons a year, the equivalent of taking more than 690,000 cars off the road.
The application includes a new project cost estimate of $1.6 billion, up from $1.4 billion, reflecting updated pricing to support project changes announced in August as part of the Forward NH Plan, when the project committed to bury an additional 52 miles of the line. The burial eliminates potential view impacts in and around the White Mountain National Forest, the Appalachian Trail, the Rocks Estate, Franconia Notch and surrounding areas. Since the announcement of the Forward NH Plan, Northern Pass has selected cable and converter manufacturers whose technology is capable of delivering up to 1,090 megawatts of clean, renewable hydro power to New Hampshire. A $200 million Forward NH Fund will be part of the project’s annual operating expense and is not part of the new project cost estimate.
In addition, other engineering and design changes have been made to further address view concerns, including lowering structure heights, modifying structure designs, and working with property owners to address individual issues. In response to feedback received at five recent public information sessions, Northern Pass has modified more than 60 additional structures to address potential view impacts along scenic byways, as well as river and highway crossings.
The SEC reviews all applications for siting and construction of large-scale energy facilities, including transmission projects like the Northern Pass. After an extensive adjudicative proceeding, the SEC decides whether to issue a Certificate of Site and Facility. The SEC process is expected to last approximately 14 months and will include numerous opportunities for public input. In addition to the public information sessions already held, future information sessions will take place as part of the SEC review process. Northern Pass is expected to be online in 2019.
“Our Forward NH Plan, including the project we have now filed with the SEC, represents a balanced approach that is based on extensive feedback from across New Hampshire to deliver substantial economic and environmental benefits to our state and the region,” said Quinlan. “As we move forward in the state siting process, and beyond into construction, we will continue our outreach efforts with landowners, communities, and others to look for ways to address local issues. Throughout this project, on-going dialogue and listening remain top priorities.”
The SEC application being filed today is consistent with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) issued last July. Northern Pass is moving forward with its application to the SEC as it awaits a supplement to the DEIS. The project will now pursue state approvals in parallel with completion of the federal review process.
In addition to revising the project route to include additional underground construction and making other engineering and design changes, the project in August announced other elements of its Forward NH Plan.
The plan includes the establishment of a $200 million Forward NH Fund, dedicated to important initiatives in tourism, economic development, community investment and clean energy innovation. The plan also reaffirmed the project’s commitment to hire local New Hampshire workers and contractors first, and its engagement in a first-of-its-kind training program to provide New Hampshire electrical worker apprentices with hands-on experience.
With the addition of the project’s new clean energy supply to the region’s energy market, New Hampshire customers will realize $800 million in retail cost savings over the first 10 years of operation through lower wholesale power costs. Additional savings for Eversource customers in New Hampshire will be realized through a firm power purchase agreement that is being finalized with Hydro-Québec. Energy cost savings and carbon emission reductions have been calculated by London Economics and are contained in a new analysis included in the project’s application to the SEC.
For more information about the new Northern Pass route and our Forward NH Plan, visit www.northernpass.us/forward-nh-press-kit.htm.
The Northern Pass Transmission project will be capable of delivering up to 1,090 megawatts of clean, renewable hydropower from the vast reserves of Hydro-Québec into the New England grid and offer unique economic and clean energy benefits to the state of New Hampshire. In addition to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee, the project is being considered by the U.S. Department of Energy and has a target in-service date of spring, 2019. For more information, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Eversource (NYSE: ES) is New Hampshire’s largest electric utility, serving more than 500,000 homes and businesses in 211 cities and towns. Eversource harnesses the commitment of its approximately 8,000 employees across three states to build a single, united company around the mission of delivering reliable energy and superior customer service. For more information, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter (@eversourceNH) and Facebook (facebook.com/EversourceNH).