Posted on November 1st, 2013 by

Northern Pass stands alone as the only project in New England that requires no customer subsidy and will bring clean, low-cost hydro power along with direct and substantial economic benefits to New Hampshire. Northern Pass has a proposed route and a firm agreement with an energy supplier (Hydro Québec) to pay the project costs.

Everyone agrees that New England is in serious need of new sources of base load energy to meet future energy demands. The power grid operator, ISO New England, projects that 8,000 megawatts of generating capacity are at risk of retiring by 2020, and, in just the last month, we’ve seen actual announcements that more than 2,000 megawatts of energy will soon be gone. As a region, the ISO projects we need to construct more than 5,000 megawatts of new generation assets in the coming years to keep the grid running. Northern Pass is a large part of the solution, and yet the region must continue to look for additional new energy sources.

TDI New England, a private transmission line developer, this week announced a proposal to construct a 1,000 megawatt line to connect a yet-to-be determined energy source from Québec to New England. The proposal calls for a line placed underwater for 100 miles through Lake Champlain and then underground for 50 miles through Vermont along an undetermined route.

Instead of putting such a proposal in the perspective of the region’s larger energy challenges, some groups are using the announcement as an opportunity to attack Northern Pass and to mislead the public by making “apples to oranges” comparisons. It is an unfortunate reality that these groups, including the Conservation Law Foundation and the Forest Society, are willing to put their own special interests and fundraising campaigns before the needs of the region.

This new proposal is an interesting concept but it is disingenuous to compare it to Northern Pass. It joins other merchant project trial balloons that may never get off the ground. Northern Pass is farther along compared to this and other conceptual proposals, and is positioned very well to earn required permits and move forward. Since announcing the project three years ago and unveiling our improved route in June of this year, we’ve made significant headway toward clearing regulatory and technical hurdles, and anticipate beginning operations in 2017. There are several other fundamental differences between Northern Pass and this new TDI proposal, including:

  • Northern Pass anticipates transmitting 1,200 megawatts of energy, enough to power about one million homes. TDI’s proposal is smaller at 1000 megawatts. That 200 megawatt difference is the equivalent of more than four Groton Wind farms.
  • Northern Pass will directly provide $28 million in annual tax revenue to towns, counties and the state and create 1,200 jobs during the construction period. The TDI proposal would provide no jobs or tax revenue to New Hampshire.
  • Northern Pass has federal approval of a payment agreement between the project and the energy supplier, Hydro Québec. Under the agreement, no ratepayer funds will be used to pay for the project. The new proposal (like another TDI proposal, the Champlain Hudson Power Express) has no such an arrangement nor has it applied for one. Until such an agreement is formalized, it’s possible this proposal may seek to recover its costs from ratepayers.
  • Northern Pass has a viable route that does NOT involve the use of eminent domain. The TDI proposal has not indicated how it will obtain the right to develop necessary right-of-way. TDI’s Champlain Hudson Power Express proposal has indicated the use of eminent domain may be necessary; and, this is noted in its Draft Environmental Impact Statement issued by the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Northern Pass applied three years ago to the regional power grid operator, ISO-New England, for permission to interconnect to the grid and is close to receiving it. The TDI proposal indicates it has only just filed with ISO, and is at least a year away from applying for any necessary state permits.

We take it as a positive sign that others are proposing solutions to meet the region’s significant energy challenges. All proposals need to be considered, and it is clear that no single “silver bullet” project will address all the region’s challenges at once. Meanwhile, the facts are clear that Northern Pass is a legitimate project with a firm partner, proven technology, a viable route, and will bring direct and substantial economic, energy, and environmental benefits to New Hampshire and New England.

Posted on November 1st, 2013 by

Posted In: Updates

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