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:
This week, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) dismissed a Petition for Approval of a power purchase agreement (PPA) between affiliates of Eversource and Hydro-Québec that is intended to ensure New Hampshire electric customers receive benefits from the Northern Pass project above and beyond what others in New England could receive. The PPA is not a requirement of the Northern Pass state permitting process, which moves into final hearings in April; however, such an agreement was desired as one aspect of the project’s direct benefits to New Hampshire.
Many people across the state, from the top political leaders to businesses and residential customers, suggested that New Hampshire receive its fair share of the power from Northern Pass in addition to the other benefits the project will bring. The PPA would ensure just that.
The PUC said that approving the PPA would be inconsistent with NH’s existing electric utility Restructuring Act, which was enacted in 1996 with the intention of lowering electricity rates for New Hampshire residents and businesses. The New Hampshire Legislature is currently considering a bill, SB 128, which would make it clear that the PUC has the authority to consider and approve measures that would lower costs for consumers, such as the PPA. The bill would allow the PUC to consider whether the PPA is likely to provide cost saving benefits to customers. That legislation does not provide any authority to shift costs of Northern Pass onto New Hampshire ratepayers as some have suggested. To the contrary, SB 128 expressly forbids inclusion of new infrastructure costs, such as Northern Pass, into customer rates.
We continue to support the effort to provide New Hampshire customers with unique economic benefits from this project, and will work with the Legislature and the PUC as necessary to provide a mechanism for the benefits of the PPA to be used to lower customers’ electric bills in New Hampshire. With or without the PPA, the overarching benefits Northern Pass will bring to the state – including 2,600 jobs, millions in local tax revenue, and the $200 million Forward NH Fund – will be substantial.
Below is a press release issued today by Eversource and Hydro-Québec (PDF version here):
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (March 31, 2017) – In response to recent inquiries concerning the Northern Pass project, Eversource Energy and Hydro-Québec wish to reaffirm their mutual and strong commitment to the project and provide clarity about how the project will be funded.
“We are proud to partner with Hydro-Québec to deliver clean, reliable hydropower into New England,” said Jim Judge, President & CEO of Eversource Energy. “We are both committed to Northern Pass as part of the solution to New England’s energy challenges, and look forward to a successful outcome in the final stages of state and federal permitting in 2017.”
Northern Pass Transmission, Inc. (NPT), a wholly owned subsidiary of Eversource Energy, is developing the U.S. transmission project to interconnect with Hydro-Québec’s system and allow the delivery of 1,090 MW of clean hydropower into New England. NPT is responsible for financing and constructing the project, and will then recover its costs once the project is in service delivering power to the region. It is the method by which project costs will be recovered that has raised questions recently.
When the project was initiated, it was expected that NPT would recover its costs through future revenues that Hydro-Québec would receive from the delivery of energy into the New England wholesale market. More recently, however, alternative methods to pay for new transmission projects have been proposed by states seeking to procure deliveries of clean energy to meet their climate and energy diversity goals.
The next significant opportunity will occur this spring, when Massachusetts solicits proposals for large quantities of clean energy. If NPT is selected, its costs will be paid by the distribution companies that purchase Hydro-Québec’s clean energy. The Transmission Services Agreement (TSA), which was initially approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2011 and remains in effect today, will be amended and supplemented to reflect the outcome of the Massachusetts solicitation.
“Alongside Eversource, we are very much looking forward to participating in the upcoming Massachusetts request for proposals. The clean energy legislation adopted by Massachusetts recognizes the important role of hydropower in the supply mix. We already supply over 10% of New England’s electricity, but Hydro-Québec can do more to help the region meet its ambitious carbon reduction goals,” said Éric Martel, Hydro-Québec CEO.
Importantly, continued development of NPT does not depend on the outcome of any one solicitation, and Eversource and Hydro-Québec will continue to evaluate future opportunities as they arise. There is a clear and growing demand for clean energy in New England as the region faces the retirement of many older generating units and the need to achieve the region’s environmental objectives. Meeting this demand will require that additional energy infrastructure be built. To help meet this demand, Eversource Energy and Hydro-Québec stand firmly behind the Northern Pass project, and believe it will deliver significant value to the province of Québec and advance New England’s clean energy future.
The Northern Pass is a 192-mile electric transmission line project that will bring New Hampshire and the rest of New England 1,090 megawatts of clean hydropower. This reliable and affordable source of power will also bring a wide range of benefits exclusively to New Hampshire, including millions of dollars in energy cost savings, additional tax revenue, and jobs during construction. To learn more about Northern Pass, go to www.northernpass.us. You can also email questions to email@example.com or call 1-800-286-7305.
Eversource (NYSE: ES) transmits and delivers electricity and natural gas for more than 3.6 million electric and natural gas customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Eversource harnesses the commitment of its more than 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 (www.eversource.com) and follow us on Twitter (@EversourceCorp) and Facebook (facebook.com/EversourceEnergy).
Hydro-Québec generates, transmits and distributes electricity. Its sole shareholder is the Québec government. While using mainly hydroelectric generation, it supports the development of other technologies—such as wind energy and biomass—through purchases from independent power producers. It also conducts R&D in energy-related fields, including energy efficiency. The company has four divisions: Hydro-Québec Production, Hydro-Québec Transénergie , Hydro-Québec Distribution and Hydro-Québec Équipement et services partagés and Société d’énergie de la Baie James (SEBJ), a subsidiary of Hydro-Québec. For more information, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter (@HydroQuébec).
A recent op-ed in the New Hampshire Union Leader challenges the idea that the state doesn’t need to improve on its energy infrastructure. As the regional grid operator, IOS New England has repeatedly said, “Unless and until there is new infrastructure in the region, we will face continuing threats to our electric grid.
March’s stormy weather was no match for the first off-shore wind farm in the U.S. Deepwater Wind, off the coast of Rhode Island, got through the storm without any problems while capturing the maximum amount of energy it could- 30 megawatts.
Energy officials from around the region gathered recently to discuss the future of renewable energy in the region. Cooperation is key, they agreed, but keeping an eye on costs is as well.
Maine legislators approved a $13 million bailout of the biomass industry last year with the hope of keeping plants open and keeping loggers working, but there are some questions now as to whether the move worked.
Union Leader, 26 March 2017
Rhodes Island Public Radio, 17 March 2017
RTO Insider, 27 March 2017
Bangor Daily news, 28 March 2017
The Northern Pass permitting process continues to advance, with final hearings beginning in two weeks, on April 13. The hearings are conducted by the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) and are the last step in the state siting process before the SEC makes its decision on Northern Pass. The final hearings follow the recently completed “discovery phase,” which involved several months of technical sessions.
The final hearings are formal legal proceedings, during which 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. The Counsel for the Public and interveners will also provide witness testimony at this stage. Witnesses for all parties will be subject to cross-examination. The dates of the final hearings are available on the SEC website under the Northern Pass docket.
The commencement of final hearings in April follows a series of important milestones and achievements for Northern Pass, which include: