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).