The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC) announced on Friday, October 14 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 and economic benefits, as well as energy cost savings to New Hampshire,” said Bill Quinlan of Eversource. “We look forward to continuing to move through the state and federal siting processes with the goal of making the benefits of Northern Pass a reality for the state’s energy consumers.”
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 permit from the regional grid operator, ISO New England, which officially determined that the clean energy project can safely and reliably interconnect with the regional electric grid.
You can view the NHPUC order on Public Utility Status here.
Northern Pass has secured a key regulatory approval this week as 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. All energy projects must secure this approval in order to be connected to the New England grid.
Northern Pass is a proposed transmission line that will carry 1,090 megawatts of clean, reliable hydroelectric power to New Hampshire and New England. The project is currently in the midst of state and federal permitting processes.
*In 2014, ISO New England approved the I.3.9 application for the project’s original 1,200 megawatt proposal.
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) issued a Notice and Order on Friday announcing a hearing on April 12 in Lincoln to discuss pending motions on Northern Pass before the SEC.
The SEC is currently reviewing the Northern Pass application as part of the state’s permitting process. This process also includes a number of hearings, such as next month’s hearing on three pending motions. These motions include:
At the hearing, the Subcommittee will allow parties that filed written motions and/or objections regarding the above matters to supplement their written motions or objections with oral argument, if necessary. After that time, the Subcommittee will consider and deliberate on the pending motions.
The meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 12, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. at the Loon Mountain Resort, 60 Loon Mountain Rd., Lincoln. You can read the SEC’s order online here.
Five hearings provide an opportunity for residents to participate in the State permitting process
Today the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) scheduled a series of five Public Information Sessions. The Public Information Sessions are another step forward for Northern Pass as it makes its way through the state review process.
The locations, dates and times of these sessions are listed in an order and notice issued by the SEC, as well as a separate procedural order. Under state law, Public Information Sessions must be held in each county in which the proposed facility is to be located within 45 days of a project’s application being accepted. Similar to the Public Information Sessions held in September, they give residents another opportunity to participate in the state approval process.
“The purpose of the public information session is to provide the public with information on the proposed Project, to provide an opportunity for comments and questions from the public, and to explain the process the Subcommittee will follow in reviewing the application,” states the public notice issued by the SEC today.
Before and during the Public Information Sessions, Northern Pass will also host an Open House for residents who wish to learn more about the project and meet with project representatives one-on-one. Open Houses will begin at 5 p.m. at each of the venues listed below.
Merrimack County: January 11, 2016 at 6 p.m., Franklin Opera House, 316 Central Street, Franklin, NH
Rockingham County: January 13, 2016 at 6 p.m., Londonderry High School, 295 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, NH
Belknap County: January 14, 2016 at 6 p.m., Lake Opechee Inn and Spa, 62 Doris Ray Court, Laconia, NH
Coös County: January 20, 2016 at 6 p.m., Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa, 101 Mountain View Road, Whitefield, NH
Grafton County: January 21, 2016 at 6 p.m., The Mountain Club on Loon Resort and Spa, 90 Loon Mountain Road, Lincoln, NH
It was a big year for Northern Pass. In 2015, we announced the Forward NH Plan and a unveiled a redesigned route that includes underground along roads in and around the White Mountain National Forest and Franconia Notch region. The plan has nearly $4 billion in benefits for New Hampshire and the region, including reduced energy costs, increased tax revenues for New Hampshire communities, a $2.1 billion boost to the state economy and the creation of 2,400 jobs.
Northern Pass also filed its application with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), the state’s siting authority for significant energy projects. We held five Public Information Sessions where residents learned more about the project and submitted comments to the SEC, and we met with municipalities and residents along the route throughout the fall, answering their questions and gathering their feedback.
As the year comes to a close and we prepare for 2016, we wanted to look at the milestones Northern Pass has already reached, and also provide you with information about the next steps the project will take.
January 29: The Coös County Jobs Creation Association announces its members made up of local residents and business owners.
March 26: Northern Pass partners with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to create the $3 million Partners for New Hampshire’s Fish and Wildlife. The program aims to protect and restore healthy forests and rivers throughout the state through grants to local organizations doing work to sustain local habitats.
July 21: The Department of Energy releases its draft Environmental Impact Statement, examining the potential impact the project could have on the environment and economy. It shows overall potential visual impact of the project will be low to very low, that Northern Pass will generate $564 million in economic output during construction, and will reduce regional carbon emissions by 8 percent.
August 18: Northern Pass announces the Forward NH Plan, which includes 52 additional miles of underground line, for a total of 60 miles underground, and nearly $4 billion in benefits.
August 31: Hydro-Québec and Eversource Energy reaffirm their commitment to bring clean, competitively-priced electricity to New Hampshire and the region.
September 2-10: Northern Pass held a series of pre-application Public Information Sessions in all five counties where the project will be located as part of our SEC filing process.
October 19: Northern Pass files its application with the SEC.
November 12: The U.S. Department of Energy releases a supplement to the draft Environmental Impact Statement, which focused on the portions of the route that include additional underground lines.
December 7: The SEC votes unanimously that the Northern Pass application is complete.
December 18: The SEC issues a written order officially deeming the Northern Pass application complete and moving the project forward in the state permitting process.
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) process will continue with five post-application Public Information Sessions in January.
The Department of Energy will also host a series of public hearings where residents can comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement on Northern Pass. The times and locations will be announced soon.
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) today released a written order formally accepting the Northern Pass permit application. This formal decision follows the SEC’s unanimous vote on December 7, 2015 to accept the application and move forward with the review process.
The issuance of the written order officially begins the Northern Pass state permitting process, a process that will include a thorough review of project details and a number of opportunities for the public to participate. Under state law, the SEC will preside over a series of post-application Public Information Sessions within the next 45 days, one in each of the five counties where the project will be located. The SEC will issue a procedural order identifying the times and locations of these five sessions. These hearings will be similar to the pre-filing Public Information Sessions Northern Pass held in September, where residents can submit questions and offer comments to the SEC about the project. The dates and locations of these sessions will be announced as they are confirmed.
In addition, the public will have another chance to participate in a series of public hearings to be conducted by the SEC within 90 days of the acceptance of the Northern Pass application. As with the Public Information Sessions, the SEC will conduct a public hearing in each county where the project will be located.
Bill Quinlan, president of N.H. electric operations for Eversource, said the SEC’s announcement today signifies a major milestone for Northern Pass.
“Clean energy projects like Northern Pass are vital to securing the region’s power supply and stabilizing energy prices,” said Quinlan. “Adding new, competitively-priced sources of clean energy can help New Hampshire and New England respond to the closing of existing power plants that we have long relied on. With the SEC’s acceptance of the project’s application as complete, Northern Pass can continue to move forward in its efforts to deliver a clean energy solution that our customers desperately need.”
UPDATE: The SEC has issued its procedural order that identifies the dates and locations of the Public Information Sessions. You can get more information about the sessions by following this link: http://blog.northernpass.us/2015/12/22/state-sets-the-next-steps-northern-pass-public-information-sessions-to-be-held-in-january/
The U.S. Department of Energy has released a Supplement to its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Northern Pass project, finding that our proposed route would have the same or fewer impacts than alternative routes analyzed in the draft EIS that was released in July.
As noted in the Supplement, almost all of the work needed to fully analyze the modified route, identified by DOE as Alternative 7, is already encompassed by the draft EIS. Northern Pass is confident that the modified route and Forward NH Plan represent a balanced approach to meeting the region’s energy needs, while offering unique benefits to New Hampshire. The release of the Supplement to the draft EIS underscores that.
Notable takeaways from the Supplement to the EIS include:
Northern Pass in August unveiled a modified route that includes an additional 52 miles of underground technology that eliminates the potential for visual impacts in and around the White Mountain National Forest. In addition to the improved route, Northern Pass announced the Forward NH Plan, a comprehensive package of environmental and economic benefits totaling nearly $4 billion in value.
The DOE will hold several public meetings next month to take comment on the draft EIS and the Supplement. It announced it has extended the comment period and will accept comments until January 4th, 2016. The dates and locations are as follows.
For more information about the draft EIS and Supplement visit http://www.northernpasseis.us/
The opportunity for public input is also available as part of the state siting process, now currently underway. Northern Pass submitted its application for a Certificate of Site and Facility with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) in October. The SEC is expected to hold a series of Public Information Sessions early next year.
For more information on the project and how to submit comments to either the DOE or the NH SEC, visit www.northernpass.us.
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).
Northern Pass has begun the process of seeking a Certificate of Site and Facility from the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC). This certificate is required before construction can begin on large energy facilities in New Hampshire, such as natural gas pipelines, certain electric power generating plants, and high-voltage transmission lines, including Northern Pass.
Changes were recently made to state law to allow for more public involvement, including adding two members of the public to the SEC. State law also provides a number of opportunities for public comment, including two additional public sessions where New Hampshire residents and other stakeholders can speak about Northern Pass.
Commenting in Writing
The Site Evaluation Committee recently opened a docket for the Northern Pass project, which provides a place for members of the public to submit their written comments. Written comments can be sent by mail, email or fax to the addresses below.
New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee
Pamela G. Monroe, Administrator
21 South Fruit Street, Suite 10
Concord, NH 03301
Tel. (603) 271-2435
Fax. (603) 271-3878
Members of the public can also file a written comment with the SEC at one of the upcoming Public Information Sessions or joint public hearings (see below).
Commenting in Person
On December 18, 2015, the SEC determined the Northern Pass application is “administratively complete,” starting a year-long series of milestones in the project’s permitting process. Within 45 days of the SEC’s acceptance, Northern Pass must hold another round of Public Information Sessions in each county where the project will be located – Merrimack, Rockingham, Grafton, Coös and Belknap counties. The SEC and other state agencies will also hold at least one joint public hearing on Northern Pass in each of these five counties within 90 days of its acceptance of the application. The public will be able to comment and ask questions at these public sessions.
The dates and locations of the 90-day Public Hearings are listed below. Two of these events – Colebrook and Concord – will be conducted in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and will serve as a public hearing for both agencies. The DOE will host two additional meetings on its own during the week of March 7 to take comment on its draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Northern Pass project.
Tuesday, March 1, 5 p.m.
Mill Falls at the Lake
281 Daniel Webster Highway
Coös County (co-hosted with DOE)
Monday, March 7, 5 p.m.
Colebrook Elementary School
27 Dumont Street
Merrimack County (co-hosted with DOE)
Thursday, March 10 at 5 p.m.
Grappone Conference Center
70 Constitution Ave
Monday, March 14 at 5 p.m.
Plymouth State University
Welcome Center at the Ice Arena
129 NH Rt. 175A (Holderness Rd.)
Wednesday, March 16 at 5 p.m.
Deerfield Fair Pavilion
34 Stage Road
Other ways to comment
In addition to the SEC process, Northern Pass is the midst of its federal permitting process. This includes the preparation and review of an Environmental Impact Statement by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The draft EIS, which was issued in July, is a comprehensive study of the potential environmental impact of the project, as well as a number of alternatives routes reviewed by the DOE.
This is a separate process that also includes opportunities for you to comment on the project. Click here if you’d like to learn more about how to submit your comment to the DOE.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will accept comments on the Northern Pass project, its draft Environmental Impact Statement and Supplement until April 4, 2016. This comment period is an opportunity for New Hampshire residents and other key stakeholders to formally submit their thoughts on the project to the DOE, either in person or in writing.
To keep people up-to-date on its permitting process, the DOE has set up a website specifically for the Northern Pass project (http://www.northernpasseis.us/). It includes the draft EIS, other public documents, and information on how to submit a comment. Because there is a vast amount of information on the DOE’s Northern Pass website, we’ve provided this short tutorial to help walk you through the commenting process.
You can quickly file a comment through the DOE’s online comment form. This page provides links to the Northern Pass draft EIS, as well as the DOE’s Section 106 Review. The draft EIS is a comprehensive study of the potential environmental impact of the project, as well as a number of alternatives routes reviewed by the DOE. The Section 106 Review is part of the overall federal permitting process and is required by the National Historic Preservation Act. It includes studies of the Northern Pass’ potential impact on New Hampshire’s cultural and historic resources, such as historic homes and iconic views.
You can also mail, email or phone in your comments directly to the DOE. Here’s how:
Commenting in person
The DOE is holding a series of public hearings on the Northern Pass project, which will include an opportunity to make an oral comment. Two of these events – Colebrook and Concord – will be conducted in conjunction with the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) and will serve as a public hearing for both agencies.
Colebrook (co-hosted with DOE)
Monday, March 7, 5 p.m.
Colebrook Elementary School
27 Dumont Street
Wednesday, March 9, 5 p.m.
Waterville Valley Conference & Event Center
56 Packards Road
Concord (co-hosted with DOE)
Thursday, March 10 at 5 p.m.
Grappone Conference Center
70 Constitution Ave
Friday, March 11, 5 p.m.
Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa
101 Mountain View Road
Other ways to comment
Northern Pass has also filed an application with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC). This is a separate process that includes opportunities for you to comment on the project. Click here if you’d like to learn more about how to submit your comment to the SEC.