(May 9, 2017) – The New Hampshire House Science, Technology and Energy Committee (ST&E) voted today, 20-1, to retain SB 128, a bill aimed at clarifying the authority of the NH Public Utilities Commission (PUC) under New Hampshire’s electric restructuring law to consider opportunities by electric utilities to lower consumers’ energy costs.
Clarifying the authority of the New Hampshire PUC to assess the benefits of such measures would ensure consideration of a power purchase agreement (PPA) between Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) and Hydro-Québec (HQ). The proposed PPA would provide 100 MW of favorably priced Northern Pass power to PSNH customers for 20 years.
Importantly, the PPA is not a requirement for state siting approval of Northern Pass by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee. Rather, it was provided in response to New Hampshire stakeholders’ requests for unique clean energy benefits from Northern Pass, above and beyond those received by other New England states.
“We understand the importance of considering this proposed legislation carefully,” said Bill Quinlan, President of NH Operations at Eversource. “We are committed to continuing to work intently with the NH Legislature, the PUC, and other parties to identify solutions for delivering much-needed energy rate relief for our customers.”
“We stand by our commitment to our New Hampshire neighbors, and look forward to delivering the benefits of the PPA in the future, should such an opportunity arise” said Steve Demers, Hydro-Québec’s Vice President of Business Development.
The PPA is only one element of Northern Pass’ robust Forward NH Plan, which will provide more than $3 billion in benefits to New Hampshire. A significant component of this plan is an estimated $600 million annually in regional energy cost savings separate and apart from the PSNH-HQ PPA. These savings result by adding a new and substantial supply of reliable power to the region’s electric grid at Deerfield, NH, which results in a more competitive market and lowers wholesale energy power prices for all New England consumers. New Hampshire’s share of this reduction is projected to be more than $60 million a year.
The Forward NH Plan will also provide about $30 million annually in new tax revenues, create about 2,600 construction jobs, and provide $200 million in funding for community betterment, economic development, clean energy and tourism. Moreover, Northern Pass will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 3 million tons a year.
SB 128 will remain in the House ST&E Committee for further work and consideration this session. The Committee has until the end of 2017 to vote on the bill. SB 128 will then move to the full NH House of Representatives for a vote in January, at the start of its 2018 session.
Northern Pass is in the final stages of securing necessary state and federal permits, with decisions expected this year.
Northern Pass Receives Key Approval from NHDOT
Northern Pass reached another significant milestone in April when the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NH DOT) issued its final report to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (NH SEC) recommending approval of the project. The final report comes after months of review of the application Northern Pass submitted to the state in October 2016.
The NH DOT decision follows the March 1 announcement that the NH Department of Environmental Services also recommends approval of the project following its review of environmental data and studies from along the project route. Both are essential components of the state siting process being conducted by the NH SEC, which is scheduled to render a final decision on the Northern Pass application later this year.
Final Hearings on Northern Pass Underway
Final hearings on the Northern Pass project began on April 13, launching the last phase of the state permitting process before the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) returns its decision on the project.
The final hearings began with testimony from Bill Quinlan, Eversource President of NH Operations, who discussed the benefits Northern Pass will bring to New Hampshire, the Massachusetts Clean Energy request for proposals (RFP), and the transmission service agreement between Northern Pass Transmission LLC and Hydro Renewable Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Hydro-Québec.
Hearings have been scheduled through the first week of August, and will continue in May covering topics such as construction, and how the project relates to historical, archeological, and environmental resources.
In April, the hearings covered the following topics:
Northern Pass and The Balsams Team Up to Bring Jobs, Tourism to the North Country
The Forward NH Plan, established by Northern Pass, recently committed a $3 million loan to assist The Balsams Resort through its final phases of design, permitting and financing. The funding is in addition to $2 million previously provided by the Forward NH Plan and helped The Balsams Resort complete a Work Force Study and advance its application with the NH Business Finance Administration, bringing this important project a step closer to breaking ground.
The Work Force Study showed that redevelopment of The Balsams will generate 600 construction jobs and at least 400 jobs when Phase 1 of the facility opens. Once the build-out of the entire project is complete, The Balsams could employ up to 1,500 people, in addition to the jobs created indirectly through the investment in the greater community.
“The interesting thing here is the future is so bright,” said Bill Quinlan, Eversource President of NH Operations, in a recent video about the partnership. “If you think about building on that history and what this actually might look like 10 years from now, it’s really exciting. We purposefully picked The Balsams because we think it’s such a transformational project for the North Country.”
In recent years, the North Country has seen economic setbacks with businesses closing and people leaving the area, said Les Otten, developer of The Balsams Resort project. The joint effort of redeveloping The Balsams and building clean energy infrastructure nearby could have a significant positive impact on the economy, he said.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity because now we’re going to get to use renewables and its actually going to reduce our power costs,” said Otten. “In addition to that, it creates the opportunity to increase reliability, other businesses to locate near us, potentially an increase in manufacturing again in the North Country with the overall upgrade of lines, and having power being a little less expensive in New Hampshire is a big deal.”
You can watch the video on The Balsams Resort redevelopment and the partnership with the Forward NH Plan at https://thebalsamsresort.com/balsams-forward-nh-video.
Regulators Issue Favorable Order on Northern Pass Use of Existing Rights-Of-Way
New Hampshire regulators issued an order earlier this month that found Eversource has made a reasonable showing that it has the right to lease the use of its existing rights-of-way to Northern Pass. The ruling clears the way for the N.H. Public Utilities Commission to now consider the benefits of the proposed lease agreement between Eversource and Northern Pass.
More than 80 percent of the proposed Northern Pass route is within existing Eversource rights-of-way or buried under public roads. Under the proposed lease agreement, more than 98 percent of the lease revenue received by Eversource will be credited to customers. The NHPUC will now begin to consider the value of the lease and determine whether it is “for the public good.”
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) will hear from a panel of six experts this week about details relating to the construction of Northern Pass.
The final hearings, which began in April, will continue May 1-4 with Kenneth Bowes, Eversource Vice President of Engineering who is responsible for engineering activities for Eversource’s electric transmission and distribution system. The Construction Panel will also include Samuel Johnson, lead Project Manager for the Northern Pass Transmission project; Derrick Bradstreet, Project Manager for Burns & McDonnell Engineering and the lead design engineer for the project; Nathan Scott, Senior Transmission Engineer for Burns & McDonnell Engineering and the underground project manager and lead engineer responsible for the electrical design of the three underground segments of the Northern Pass HVDC transmission line; John Kayser, Project Manager in the Transmission and Distribution division at Burns & McDonnell Engineering; and Lynn Farrington, a licensed Professional Traffic Operations Engineer for Louis Berger of Portland, Maine, who is advising Northern Pass on traffic impacts that may occur temporarily during construction.
Key points that will likely be discussed will include:
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) will hear today about the impact Northern Pass will have on system stability and reliability, as well as the ISO New England I.3.9 process as part of its ongoing review of the project.
The final hearing today will include Robert Andrew, Director of System Solutions for Eversource. Andrew has more than 35 years of experience in the electrical generation and distribution industry and is responsible for ensuring the optimal performance of Eversource’s electric transmission and distribution system. This includes developing and executing system improvements, collaborating on project designs, and participating in the ISO New England Planning Process.
In July 2016, ISO New England approved the project’s I.3.9 application, determining that the current Northern Pass proposal to deliver 1,090 megawatts of electricity can reliably interconnect with the regional electric grid and will not have a significant, adverse effect on the reliability or operating characteristics of the regional grid and its participants. All energy projects must secure this approval to be connected to the New England grid. In 2014, ISO New England approved the I.3.9 application for the project’s original 1,200 megawatt proposal.
Key points that will likely be discussed include:
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee’s (SEC) final hearings on Northern Pass continue today with a look at how the project relates to public health and safety.
Today’s hearing will include Dr. William Bailey, the Principal Scientist at the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health Risk Assessment at Exponent, Inc., and internationally recognized expert in the potential effects of electric and magnetic fields (EMFs); Dr. Gary Johnson, a Senior Managing Scientist in Exponent’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science practice who modeled the electric and magnetic fields, audible noise, and radio noise from the existing lines and from the Northern Pass Transmission Project; and Douglas Bell, a Senior Principal Consultant and President at Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, Inc., with 25 years of experience evaluating environmental sound and who conducted sound surveys along the proposed Northern Pass route.
The proposed Northern Pass project includes a 158-mile direct current (DC) transmission line that will run from the Canadian border to Franklin, and a 34-mile alternating current (AC) line that will run from a converter station in Franklin to a substation in Deerfield. EMFs are present around any electric power line, whether it carries DC or AC electricity, and today’s experts will discuss how these EMFs relate to the route’s surrounding area.
Key points that will likely be discussed will include:
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)
International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety (ICES)
National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB)
Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR)
S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
World Health Organization (WHO)
Northern Pass Receives Key Approvals from NH Environmental Agency
Northern Pass reached another significant milestone on March 1 when the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) issued four key approvals of the project. DES’s decisions pertained to the Wetland, Shoreland and Alteration of Terrain permits, and the 401 Water Quality Certificate. As a condition included in this approval, Northern Pass agrees to set aside more than 1,600 acres throughout the state to preserve key habitats and species, such as high-elevation forest land and the Karner blue butterfly. Northern Pass will also have to make payments totaling $3.3 million to the State’s Aquatic Resources Mitigation Fund to be used for conservation efforts selected by the state.
The approvals are essential components of the state siting process being conducted by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), and according to DES, mark the conclusion of the agency’s review of the project’s siting application. The SEC is scheduled to render a final decision on the Northern Pass application later this year.
NORTHERN PASS MOVES AHEAD WITH PERMITTING PROCESS
The state’s review of Northern Pass continued in the first months of 2017 which were focused on technical sessions completed on March 24, 2017.
The SEC began the latest round of technical sessions on January 18, which provided Northern Pass an opportunity to review testimony and question witnesses for the Counsel for the Public and interveners. The Technical Sessions are part of the larger discovery phase of the state approval process and are a precursor to the adjudicative hearings, scheduled to begin in April.
The adjudicative hearings are formal legal proceedings similar to those you might find in a court of law. During the hearings, testimony will be presented by Northern Pass and project experts to the SEC, including data on benefits, construction procedures, environmental impact, and other aspects of the project, which will be subject to cross-examination. Witnesses for the Counsel for the Public and interveners will also provide testimony at this stage. The dates of the adjudicative hearings are available on the SEC website under the Northern Pass docket.
For more information and an outline of the New Hampshire permitting process, go to www.northernpass.us/permitting-siting.htm.
LOCAL TAXES AND NORTHERN PASS
An integral part of the Northern Pass proposal will be the investment in energy infrastructure in the communities along the route through the construction of the project. These investments will bring a large source of clean energy to the region, but will also result in increased tax revenue in the host communities.
Recently, Northern Pass reached out to all of the incorporated communities along the route to notify them of the expected tax revenue the project will bring over the next 20 years. In Stewartstown, for example, the estimated Northern Pass investment (which is an increase to the town’s tax base) in the first year after construction will be $69.9 million. That will yield a first-year payment for municipal and local school taxes of $858,361.
The total Northern Pass tax payment in all of the incorporated towns in the first-year after operations begin will be nearly $23 million. This does not include tax payments that will be made to the counties that host the project or to the state.
To learn more about the infrastructure investment Northern Pass will be making in your community and the tax payments that will result, go to www.northernpass.us/towns.htm.
Heavy Equipment Simulator Has Benefited More Than 90 North Country Students
The Arthur T. Paradice Career Technical Education Center at the White Mountains Regional High School (CTE) received a grant through the Coös County Jobs Creation Fund last year that enabled the school to purchase an Oryx excavator simulator for heavy equipment training in a number of CTE classes. Since its purchase, 90 freshmen have used the simulator in a Career Explorations class, learning how to use the basic controls to virtually grade land, dig trenches, and load simulated trucks.
In addition to this introductory course, the excavator simulator has been used by students in the school’s Agricultural Mechanics, Introduction to Mechanics, and Horticulture classes, and by the Future Farmers of America student organization. The simulator has been an effective tool in teaching students the physical science behind heavy equipment operation, how the equipment functions, and how it is repaired. These classes are also instrumental in laying the groundwork for the hydraulics units that are taught in classes at the CTE Center.
CTE Director Robert Scott, CTE Teacher Dana Graham, and Superintendent of SAU #36 Marion Anastasia, recently wrote a letter to the SEC touting the simulator’s success in the classroom.
“It is evident the Oryx simulator has already presented many benefits to the students of White Mountains Regional High School in a very short time period,” they wrote. “As we continue to refine the use of the simulator, we realize the potential of it becoming a valuable asset to the school as well as to the community.”
In the coming years, the school hopes to expand the use of the machine, such as adding components that simulate the use of a bulldozer, front end loader and other heavy equipment. The school is also looking to create partnerships with local industry and offer adult education training.
“By adding additional modules to the simulator, it would prepare our students in obtaining basic skills of heavy equipment operation on more than just an excavator,” the school officials wrote. “Local businesses are looking for skilled employees that have knowledge in the operation of multiple types of heavy equipment. Creating partnerships with local industries will result in two benefits for the school and community.”
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee’s final hearings on Northern Pass continue today with a look at the technical, financial and managerial capabilities of the project. Final hearings began on Thursday with a discussion about the Northern Pass route, the Forward NH Plan, benefits for New Hampshire and the Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP.
Today’s hearing will include Kenneth Bowes, Eversource Vice President of Engineering, who is responsible for engineering activities for Eversource’s electric transmission and distribution system, and Michael Auseré, Certified Public Accountant and Vice President of Energy Planning and Economics for Eversource, who will speak to Northern Pass’ financial capability to construct and operate the project.
Other topics that will likely be discussed include:
Final hearings on the Northern Pass begin tomorrow, launching the last phase of the state permitting process before the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) returns its decision on the project.
The final hearings will begin with testimony from Bill Quinlan, the Eversource President of NH Operations, who will discuss the considerable benefits Northern Pass will bring to New Hampshire, including economic development and jobs programs, energy savings, tax revenue, an increase in New Hampshire’s GDP, as well as significant environmental benefits.
Other project details that will be discussed include:
New Hampshire regulators today issued an order that Eversource has made a reasonable showing that it has the right to lease the use of its existing rights of way to Northern Pass. The ruling clears the way for the N.H. Public Utilities Commission to now consider the benefits of the proposed lease agreement between Eversource and Northern Pass.
More than 80 percent of the proposed Northern Pass route is underground or within existing Eversource rights of way. Under the proposed lease agreement, more than 98 percent of the lease revenue received by Eversource will be credited to customers. The NHPUC will now begin to consider the value of the lease and determine whether it is “for the public good.”
Recent Project Milestones
Northern Pass reached another significant milestone yesterday when the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NH DOT) issued its final report to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (NH SEC) recommending approval of the project. This follows the March 1 announcement by the NH Department of Environmental Services which also recommended approval of the project. Both are essential components of the state siting process being conducted by the NH SEC, which is scheduled to render a final decision on the Northern Pass application later this year.
The approval by the NH DOT follows a series of important milestones and achievements for Northern Pass, which include: