MANCHESTER, N.H. (November 2, 2017) – The Staff of the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC), the New Hampshire Office of the Consumer Advocate (OCA), Eversource, and Northern Pass Transmission LLC (NPT) have reached a settlement that will enable Northern Pass to lease transmission rights-of-way from Eversource. The agreement, now pending final approval by the NHPUC, will provide significant customer benefits and complete the last of several NHPUC approvals needed for NPT to proceed. Hearings on the project are continuing before the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), with a decision on NPT’s application for a Certificate of Site and Facility expected from the SEC in early 2018.
“We appreciate the effort and collaboration the PUC staff and the OCA put into this settlement, which will provide significant benefits to New Hampshire customers and will also move this important clean energy project forward,” said Eversource New Hampshire President Bill Quinlan. “Based on the terms of the agreement, New Hampshire residents will have greater access to clean energy technologies of the future.”
Under the proposed agreement, which the parties agreed is in the public interest, NPT will make annual lease payments to Eversource, which will be used to off-set Eversource’s transmission costs. Additionally, Northern Pass has committed to making annual payments, which will total $15 million over the lifetime of the project. The funds will be under the control and direction of the PUC for “programs, projects or other purposes that provide benefits to New Hampshire distribution customers.” These programs may include investments in distributed generation, energy storage, electric vehicles, demand response and other initiatives.
The settlement agreement follows an order in April from the PUC stating Eversource has shown that it has the right to lease the use of its existing rights-of-way to Northern Pass.
In addition to the $15 million in funding for New Hampshire customers included in this agreement, Northern Pass will provide the state with millions annually in additional tax revenue to communities along the route; $7.5 million to the North Country Job Creation Fund to develop and retain jobs in the North Country; thousands of acres set aside for conservation, recreation and mixed-use; reduced CO2 emissions and energy costs; and the $200 million Forward NH Fund to support clean energy innovations, economic development, community investment, and tourism.
The proposed Northern Pass transmission line will begin at the Canadian border in Pittsburg, New Hampshire and run to Deerfield where it connects to the New England grid. More than 80 percent of the line will be located along existing transmission corridors or buried along roadways to eliminate potential view impacts in the White Mountain National Forest area. Northern Pass will provide a robust, new interconnection path between the Québec and New England electric systems, and will be controlled by the regional system operator, ISO-New England.
The following press release was issued by Eversource on July 27, 2017. For relevant materials, click here.
Proposals will offer substantial environmental and economic benefits to consumers in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New England
MANCHESTER, N.H. (July 27, 2017) – Eversource and Hydro-Québec (HQ) today submitted two comprehensive proposals in response to the Massachusetts Clean Energy solicitation. Both proposals would use the Northern Pass Transmission project (NPT) to deliver significant amounts of clean energy to the New England grid, interconnecting in New Hampshire. The solicitation is the result of a law passed last year by the Massachusetts Legislature to provide for new sources of clean energy for decades into the future. The two proposals are a 100 percent hydropower option and a hydropower and onshore wind combination option, and both highlight NPT’s advanced project development and Eversource’s extensive experience in building and operating the transmission grid in the region.
“Northern Pass is the most mature and comprehensive solution to meet the region’s clean energy goals and will help provide stability over the price and supply of the energy for years to come,” said Lee Olivier, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at Eversource Energy. “As New England’s largest utility, we are uniquely positioned to deliver on that promise. We are excited to begin delivering the substantial benefits of this project to consumers throughout the region.”
The Northern Pass transmission line begins at the Canadian border in Pittsburg, New Hampshire and extends 192 miles to Deerfield, New Hampshire where it connects to the New England grid. More than 80 percent of the line will be located along existing transmission corridors or buried along roadways to eliminate potential view impacts in the White Mountain National Forest area. NPT will provide a robust, new interconnection path between the Québec and New England electric systems, and will be controlled by the regional system operator, ISO-NE.
Northern Pass will soon be a shovel-ready project with all major state and federal permits expected in 2017. Moreover, all major contractor and equipment contracts are fully executed to begin construction early in 2018. The majority of the project’s construction will take place in 2018 and 2019. A project labor agreement has been executed and is expected to generate thousands of jobs during peak construction for both Granite State and Bay State workers. Northern Pass will be substantially complete by the third quarter of 2020, and following testing, the line will be in service by the end of 2020 – prior to the critical 2020-2021 winter period.
Clean Energy Solutions
The 100 percent hydropower option included in the Northern Pass bid would deliver 1,090 megawatts of clean hydroelectric energy and the associated environmental attributes from HQ’s existing resources. A second option would combine predominantly firm hydropower from HQ with new wind generation located in Québec, provided by a partnership of wind developers, Gaz Métro and Boralex. The wind power will be backed by hydropower and includes Class I Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Both options guarantee a firm delivery of 1,090 megawatts of clean energy year round, including winter and summer days when demand for energy is greatest.
Achieving Environmental Benefits and Reducing Costs
Northern Pass will be capable of providing up to 9.4 terawatt hours of clean energy that the Massachusetts legislation requires on an annual basis while helping the Bay State attain the clean energy goals required by its Global Warming Solutions Act. The project will also reduce wholesale energy costs, diversify the region’s energy mix, and help fill the gap created by the retirement of older generating plants. Further, Northern Pass will help reduce reliance on natural gas-fired sources, particularly during the winter months when the gas pipeline system into New England is constrained.
Enabling Enhanced Economic and Community Betterment
In an effort to provide additional benefits, Northern Pass has finalized an agreement with leading Massachusetts low-income advocates, including Action for Boston Community Development, Action, Inc., and the National Consumer Law Center, that commits $10 million in funding to support low-income energy programs and services for Massachusetts low-income customers over 20 years.
As the host state for the Northern Pass project, New Hampshire will receive new property tax revenues and additional benefits to promote community betterment and economic development. The project enjoys strong support from many of New Hampshire’s business leaders, labor organizations and elected officials.
In summary, Northern Pass will help stabilize regional energy prices, provide a firm supply of clean energy, lower greenhouse gas emission, and provide hundreds of new jobs and additional economic benefits for Massachusetts residents. With approval of state and federal permits expected by the end of 2017, all major construction and supplier contracts fully executed, the Northern Pass proposal is the most advanced and comprehensive energy solution for Massachusetts.
Eversource (NYSE: ES) transmits and delivers electricity and natural gas to more than 3.6 million electric and natural gas customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Recognized as the top U.S. utility for its energy efficiency programs by the sustainability advocacy organization Ceres, Eversource harnesses the commitment of its approximately 8,000 employees across three states to build a single, united company around the mission of safely delivering reliable energy and superior customerservice. For more information, please visit our website (www.eversource.com) and follow us on Twitter (@EversourceCorp) and Facebook (facebook.com/EversourceEnergy).
The Northern Pass is a 192-mile electric transmission line project that will bring to New England 1,090 megawatts of clean hydropower. This reliable and affordable source of power will also bring a wide range of benefits to the region, including millions of dollars in energy cost savings and a significant reduction in carbon emissions. To learn more about Northern Pass, go to www.northernpass.us.
Below is the press release regarding the power purchase agreement between Eversource and Hydro-Québec.
MANCHESTER, N.H. (July 25, 2017) – Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH) d/b/a Eversource Energy and Hydro Renewable Energy Inc. (HRE), an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, have announced their intent to work to replace their existing Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with an alternative agreement to provide New Hampshire customers with environmental and potential future economic benefits as part of the Northern Pass Transmission (NPT) project.
“We recognize the importance of delivering value to New Hampshire and are pleased to be cooperating with our partner on a new approach that will result in unique and significant benefits for the Granite State,” said Bill Quinlan, president of Eversource operations in New Hampshire. “PSNH remains firmly committed to pursuing opportunities to lower energy costs for our customers above and beyond the $62 million in annual energy cost savings for New Hampshire consumers.”
“Hydro-Québec is committed to working with Eversource to provide the value of Quebec hydropower environmental attributes to the state of New Hampshire, in addition to the benefits associated with the operation of the Northern Pass Project,” said Steve Demers, Vice-President – Business Development of Hydro-Québec.
In March, the NH Public Utilities Commission (PUC) dismissed the original PPA on the grounds that the agreement was not consistent with the state’s electric restructuring law. A subsequent attempt by New Hampshire lawmakers to address issues raised by the PUC has yet to advance. Importantly, the commitment associated with today’s announcement will be consistent with the PUC’s decision and comes at no cost to New Hampshire customers.
Through the commitment announced today, the parties will work toward an agreement to provide to PSNH the environmental attributes associated with an annual volume of clean energy delivered into the New England region. PSNH would be able to utilize those attributes to satisfy future clean energy requirements and direct any benefits to New Hampshire customers.
There is a clear need to lower energy costs in New England, as well as a growing demand for additional sources of clean energy as the region faces the retirement of many older generating units and the need to achieve the region’s environmental objectives. Together with the competitively-priced and abundant clean energy Northern Pass will provide, the commitment by PSNH and HRE announced today represents significant economic and environmental benefits for New Hampshire.
Eversource (NYSE: ES) is New Hampshire’s largest electric utility, serving more than 500,000 homes and businesses in 211 cities and towns and is proud to be recognized as the top contributor to United Way in New Hampshire. Recognized as the top U.S. utility for its energy efficiency programs by the sustainability advocacy organization Ceres, Eversource harnesses the commitment of its approximately 8,000 employees across three states to build a single, united company around the mission of safely delivering reliable energy and superior customer service. For more information, please visit our website (www.eversource.com) and follow us on Twitter (@eversourceNH) and Facebook (facebook.com/EversourceNH).
The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a request by Northern Pass to cross public waters and public lands to construct the 192-mile hydroelectric transmission line project. In granting the licenses, the PUC found that the crossings will not interfere with the public’s use of the land and waters affected by the crossings.
The various requests for licenses to cross state waters and lands were submitted as part of the project’s filing before the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) for approval of a Certificate of Site and Facility.
The project’s proposed route has also undergone review from a number of other state agencies, including the Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Services, both of which have recommended approval of the project. More than 80 percent of the route will be built in existing rights-of-way or buried under public roadways.
Recent Project Milestones
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 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. The approvals are essential components of the state siting process being conducted by the NH Site Evaluation Committee (NH SEC), and according to DES, mark the conclusion of the agency’s review of the project’s siting application. The NH SEC is scheduled to render a final decision on the Northern Pass application later this year.
The approvals from DES follow a series of important milestones and achievements for Northern Pass, which include:
An update to the economic analysis of the hydroelectric energy transmitted by Northern Pass shows that the project will reduce wholesale energy costs in New England by more than $600 million annually, and eliminate more than 3 million tons of carbon emissions in the region each year.
The wholesale energy price reductions will ultimately flow to customers as retail energy cost savings. The significant reduction in emissions will help New England states achieve clean air goals.
“…LEI’s modeling update demonstrates that Northern Pass will deliver significant benefits to ratepayers in the form of lower electricity costs, carbon emissions reduction, and a more efficient system…”
(London Economics International Updated Analysis, February 2017)
The study, done by London Economics International (LEI) and filed today with the NH Site Evaluation Committee as part of the project’s ongoing state permitting process, provides an update to a 2015 LEI study that showed similar CO2 emission reductions and average regional economic savings of about $800 million annually.
According to LEI, the change in the estimated annual energy savings since 2015 is due to several factors, including updated projected natural gas prices, lower forecasted customer energy demand, and a modest net increase in supply during the study period from 2020 – 2030. It also reflects changes to rules governing the Forward Capacity Market (FCM), which is administered by ISO-New England, the region’s electric system operator. The FCM provides incentive payments to energy generators through a competitive process under guidelines set annually by ISO-New England. These payments are funded by electricity consumers. Although the size of Northern Pass’ impact in terms of megawatts has not changed since 2015, the total amount paid for capacity will be smaller because of ISO-New England’s 2016 FCM rules. As a result, LEI’s updated study now calculates $600 million in annual savings—a number that fluctuates based on annual FCM parameters.
“…this Updated Analysis shows that even in the face of shifting market conditions due to changes in underlying drivers and evolving market rules, a project like Northern Pass will create substantial wholesale electricity market benefits in the form of lower electricity costs, benefiting consumers across New England. In addition, the Updated Analysis suggests that Northern Pass still produces significant reductions in emissions of CO2 within the New England footprint, supporting many states’ legislated greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals and overall societal initiatives to tackle the global Climate Change problem.”
(Testimony of Julia Frayer, Managing Director, London Economics International, February 2017)
Northern Pass had a landmark year in 2016, reaching a number of milestones key to the project’s approval. The Department of Energy (DOE) received public comments and held a series of public hearings throughout New Hampshire. At the state level, the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) took comments from the public, held a number of public hearings, and advanced the process through Technical Sessions and decisions on motions.
Looking ahead to 2017, the SEC will hold adjudicative hearings in the spring, and is expected to make a final decision on the project no later than September 30. The DOE is expected to release its final Environmental Impact Statement sometime next year, as well.
Below is a recap of 2016 milestones to highlight how far the project has come this year. We look forward to 2017, with Northern Pass on track to complete all permitting processes.
The DOE held public hearings throughout the state in March to gather input on its draft Environmental Impact Statement on Northern Pass.
The SEC held 12 public information sessions and public hearings on Northern Pass throughout the state and in communities along the route from January through June. Northern Pass also organized a series of bus tours of the route for the SEC and interveners in coordination with these hearings.
The discovery phase of the state permitting process began in April, requiring Northern Pass to provide documents to the Counsel for the Public and the interveners to the Northern Pass SEC docket. This process continued into August and concluded with Northern Pass staff providing more than 1,250 data responses.
In the fall, the SEC began its first round of Technical Sessions, which provided an informal opportunity for the parties involved in the Northern Pass state review process to ask questions of project experts. There were 21 session held, covering a wide range of topics related to the project, including construction, project benefits, aesthetics, and economic and environmental impact.
Northern Pass secured a key regulatory approval in July when ISO New England officially determined that the clean energy project can reliably interconnect with the regional electric grid. By approving the project’s I.3.9 application, ISO New England determined Northern Pass will not have a significant, adverse effect on the reliability or operating characteristics of the regional grid and its participants.
The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC) announced in October that Northern Pass has the technical, managerial, and financial expertise to operate as a public utility once the project is fully permitted, and that it is in the public good for the project to do so. The agreement includes Northern Pass’ commitment to provide $20 million ($2 million a year for 10 years) for programs or initiatives approved by the NHPUC that advance clean energy innovation, community betterment, and economic development in New Hampshire, including energy efficiency programs.
In the Community
Business leaders from across the state representing 50 companies announced their support for Northern Pass in March. In a joint statement to the Site Evaluation Committee, the diverse group of New Hampshire businesses, including some of the state’s largest employers, urged elected officials to join them in support of the project.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced eight conservation, restoration and research grants in August totaling nearly $1 million to restore New Hampshire’s forest and freshwater habitat. The grants were funded through Partners for New Hampshire’s Fish and Wildlife, a partnership between Northern Pass, Eversource and NFWF. Collectively, these projects will open 175 miles of streams for Eastern Brook Trout, improve habitat for New England cottontail, American woodcock, and golden-winged warblers on 852 acres of forestland, and reduce polluted runoff from entering streams, including 47 tons of sediment and 41 tons of phosphorus.
Roger’s Campground in Lancaster unveiled the North Country’s first electric vehicle charging station in May, made possible through funding from Northern Pass and the Forward NH Plan.
In July, Lancaster became the first North Country town to install energy-efficient LED street lights, reducing energy consumption by 60 percent. Switching from conventional to LED street lights was funded by the Forward NH Plan.
Emergency responders saw an improvement to their radio communications system in eight communities in northern New Hampshire and Vermont this summer thanks to the installation of a new emergency radio antenna. The antenna, which was funded by Northern Pass, enables police to communicate via radio in areas where radio signal was previously unavailable.
Project Work and Construction
In April, Northern Pass announced the major contractors and material suppliers who will execute the engineering, design and construction of the Northern Pass transmission line once the project receives state and federal permits. Later that month, Northern Pass contractors began field work along the proposed route that continued through the rest of the year. Geotechnical work included soil boring tests along the proposed route to log soil characteristics, and archeological field work included shovel test sampling for historical artifacts, as is required under the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106 process and by the SEC.
Other Key Decisions
The New Hampshire Superior Court ruled in favor of Northern Pass in May and unequivocally dismissed claims by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests that use of public highways was subject to the Forest Society’s approval.
In June, Eversource and Hydro-Québec reached a significant agreement that ensures Eversource customers in New Hampshire will receive a substantial supply of clean energy from the Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission project. The power purchase agreement, or PPA, is expected to deliver additional benefits that, when combined with the lowering of market power prices, bring the total estimated energy cost savings for New Hampshire customers to more than $1 billion.
Over the last year, Northern Pass contractors conducted archeological field investigations along the Project’s proposed route. Archeological investigations included shovel test sampling for resources in various locations along the existing transmission corridor, and along public roads. The top-most layer, sometimes referred to as the “sod cap”, is removed, and the soil beneath is sifted to search for artifacts.
Once the investigation is completed the soil is backfilled, tamped down, and the top-most layer replaced. This work, which is nearly complete, is required for the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106 process, and for the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC). All findings are considered culturally sensitive and confidential.
The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC) announced recently that Northern Pass has the technical, managerial and financial expertise to operate as a public utility once the project is fully permitted, and that it is in the public good for the project to do so. As a public utility, Northern Pass operations will be subject to the jurisdiction of the NHPUC once the project is in service. This is consistent with how other transmission owners operate in New Hampshire.
“This approval is another milestone for the project, which promises to deliver significant environmental, economic, and energy cost savings to New Hampshire,” said Bill Quinlan of Eversource. “We appreciate the excellent work by the NHPUC staff and Commissioners in evaluating the project, and look forward to further dialogue as the evaluation process continues.”
In addition to granting Northern Pass public utility status, the NHPUC order formalizes Northern Pass’ commitment to provide $20 million ($2 million a year for 10 years) for programs or initiatives approved by the NHPUC that advance clean energy innovation, community betterment, and economic development in New Hampshire, including energy efficiency programs. The funding for these initiatives will come from the Forward NH Fund, which will be established by Northern Pass to provide unique benefits to New Hampshire.
This approval by the NHPUC follows another key regulatory milestone for Northern Pass. In July, Northern Pass was granted an I.3.9 approval by the regional grid operator, ISO New England, which officially determined that the clean energy project can reliably interconnect with the regional electric grid. You can view the NHPUC order on Public Utility Status on the agency’s website.
Northern Pass recently completed the Technical Session review phase of the state permitting process. These informal hearings were an opportunity for the parties involved in the Northern Pass state permitting process to ask questions of the project and are part of the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee’s (SEC) ongoing review of the project.
The SEC review process will soon move on to Northern Pass’ review of testimony and information provided by experts and witnesses representing the Counsel for the Public and others. For more information about the SEC process, go to the SEC docket on Northern Pass, posted on the agency’s website. You can also find updates about the project and its permitting process on the Northern Pass Project Journal.
A joint transmission project between Eversource and National Grid is putting local companies and residents to work in the Merrimack Valley, while the launch of a lineworker certificate program at Manchester Community College is training people for future projects.
A number of New Hampshire-based companies and workers were selected to begin the first phase of construction on the Merrimack Valley Reliability Project (MVRP), a transmission project between Londonderry and Tewksbury, Massachusetts. Local companies include Triple L Trucking and Greymont Trucking of Henniker, M & R Wood Recycling of Derry, A.B. Excavating of Lancaster, U.S. Silt & Site Supply of Bow, Redimix Companies Inc. of Manchester, New England Mat Company of Winchester, and Busby Construction of Atkinson. Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 104 and other local unions will also provide workers for the project. Non-union workers will also be employed in a variety of roles.
Eversource also announced in October its partnership with Manchester Community College (MCC), the National Electrical Contractors Association, and IBEW Local Unions 104 and 1837 to offer a certification program that will help prepare the next generation of electrical lineworkers in New Hampshire. The partnership offers a limited number of candidates valuable training and the opportunity to progress into Eversource’s paid apprenticeship program.
“This new program fits perfectly into our philosophy of giving students hands-on learning opportunities which lead directly to well-paying jobs in the market,” says Susan Huard, President of Manchester Community College. “This will be an attractive new program for those looking to advance their skills, pursue a new career path with Eversource, or work toward completing a degree.”
For more information about the MCC lineworker certificate program or the Eversource apprenticeship program go to the company website.
New Hampshire resident Michael Van Natta sees a lot of upside when it comes to Northern Pass, like stabilizing energy costs, underground lines reducing potential view impacts, and funding for communities in New Hampshire.
“The benefits package that’s going to communities, if you want to support New Hampshire, you should support it,” said Van Natta. “It’s money coming in to these communities that don’t have a lot of funding.”
To hear more of what Van Natta said, go to the Northern Pass videos page.