Posted on November 16th, 2017 by

Permit Follows Record of Decision and Concludes Environmental Review of the Most Advanced Clean Energy Project in New England

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Record of Decision (ROD) and approved the Presidential Permit for the Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission project (NPT) that will allow NPT to construct transmission facilities at the U.S./Canada border in Pittsburg, New Hampshire.  This approval is the culmination of a thorough review of the project that involved numerous federal agencies, extensive public involvement, and detailed consideration of approximately a dozen different alternatives.

“We are pleased to see the DOE permitting process for Northern Pass draw to a close, and appreciate the years of diligent work done by the federal agencies in reaching this critical project milestone,” said Eversource New Hampshire President Bill Quinlan.  “With the New Hampshire and Canadian permitting processes also nearing completion, and considering we have all major contractor, equipment and labor agreements in place, Northern Pass is on track to begin construction by mid-2018.  This is good news for customers, and for the broad and diverse group of New Hampshire stakeholders who support this project for the many benefits it will bring to the state and the region.”

(See more quotes below.)

In approving the Presidential Permit for NPT, DOE found that the permit was in the public interest and that the project would have no adverse impacts on reliability of the U.S. electric power system, particularly in New England.  As required, DOE also obtained favorable recommendations from the U.S. Departments of State and Defense.  The extensive review of NPT was led by DOE and involved the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service – White Mountain National Forest, the New England District of the Army Corps of Engineers and the New Hampshire Office of Energy Planning as cooperating agencies.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also participated in the review of potential impacts on threatened and endangered species.

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is expected to issue a separate final ROD soon in response to NPT’s application for a special use permit to allow burial of the transmission line through the White Mountain National Forest.  In a draft ROD issued in September, the USFS proposed to approve NPT’s application, concluding that the short-term construction impacts of the project are “more than outweighed by the benefits of bringing additional hydropower to the New England grid.”

Northern Pass will result in up tp 3.2 million metric tons of avoided CO2 emissions per year in New England.  Estimated wholesale electricity market benefits are approximately $600 million annually for New England and $62 million annually for New Hampshire.  Northern Pass will create a significant increase in New Hampshire’s Gross Domestic Product, estimated to be $2.2 billion over the project’s construction period and in the first 10 years of operation, and the project will create 2,600 jobs in New Hampshire during construction.

Beyond its clean energy benefits and energy cost savings, Northern Pass will provide a number of benefits unique to New Hampshire, including about $30 million 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; and the $200 million Forward NH Fund to support clean energy innovations, economic development, community investment, and tourism.

The Northern Pass transmission line begins at the Canadian border in Pittsburg, New Hampshire and extends 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.  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.

Broad Support in New Hampshire

Tony Giunta

Mayor-elect, City of Franklin, NH

“Issuance of the Presidential Permit for the Northern Pass project is great news for the City of Franklin and other municipalities that will directly benefit from the millions of new dollars being invested in our communities.  We greatly appreciate the thoroughness and speed at which the U.S. Department of Energy acted on this critical renewable energy project.”

Guy Montminy

Senior Vice President and Deputy General Manager, BAE Systems Electronic Systems, Nashua, NH

“News that the Northern Pass project is now one step closer to providing clean, renewable, reliable, low-cost power to New Hampshire and New England is encouraging.  BAE Systems saw its energy costs in New Hampshire grow by 24 percent per kilowatt hour from 2014 to 2016.  If these cost increases continue, they threaten New Hampshire’s economic growth.  There is no dispute that the best way to definitively lower electricity costs is to bring more reliable, affordable electricity into the New England power market.  The clean, renewable power Northern Pass will bring to the region will help address these cost increases while appropriately protecting environmental resources.  The state Site Evaluation Committee should follow the lead of federal regulators and approve this project without any further delays.”

Brian Murphy

Business Manager of IBEW Local 104 of Barrington, NH

“The issuance of the federal Record of Decision and Presidential Permit by the U.S. Department of Energy represents a major milestone for the Northern Pass project and the thousands of New Hampshire working families that will benefit from this project.  After conducting scores of public hearings and receiving thousands of public comments, the U.S. DOE correctly concluded that this project provides great benefit to the people of New Hampshire and New England.  IBEW applauds the thorough and efficient permitting work of the U.S. Department of Energy, and we look forward to getting to work building this critical energy infrastructure project.”

Tracy Hatch

President & CEO, Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, Nashua, NH

“As New Hampshire businesses look to expand and grow, and as out-of-state and international companies look to relocate to New Hampshire, one of the biggest challenges they all face is the high and too often volatile cost of energy.  From manufacturing to health care, and from hospitality to retail to high-tech software development, virtually every industry we have and want to attract needs a reliable source of energy at a price they can afford with the capacity to meet their needs. Northern Pass promises to provide all that and more.  Our Chamber strongly supports Northern Pass and applauds this major step forward.”

Michael Skelton

President & CEO, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Manchester, NH

“Growing New Hampshire’s economy is directly tied to availability of low-cost and reliable sources of energy.  The GMCC has supported Northern Pass for years as we know an energy project of this scale will deliver tremendous value to our economy and help attract and retain businesses and jobs to the Granite State, especially from the manufacturing sector. We are pleased to see Northern Pass achieve this important milestone.”

 

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.

Eversource (NYSE: ES) transmits and delivers electricity and natural gas to more than 3.7 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 customer service. For more information, please visit our website at Eversource.com and follow us on Twitter (@eversourceNH) and Facebook (facebook.com/EversourceNH).

###

CONTACT:

Martin Murray

603-634-2228

martin.murray@eversource.com

 

Kaitlyn Woods

603-634-2418

kaitlyn.woods@eversource.com


Posted on November 16th, 2017 by

Posted In: Permitting, Uncategorized, Updates

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Posted on November 13th, 2017 by

Northern Pass Reaches Agreement to Lease Rights-of-Way

$15 million in clean energy benefits to New Hampshire customers

The Staff of the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC), the New Hampshire Office of the Consumer Advocate (OCA), Eversource, and Northern Pass 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 Northern Pass to proceed.

“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, Northern Pass 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 NHPUC 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. 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.

 

Northern Pass Concludes Its Case-In-Chief Before the SEC

The final witnesses for Northern Pass completed testimony before the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) on October 2, marking the conclusion of Northern Pass’ witness presentation before the SEC. Northern Pass presented 25 witnesses over 43 hearing days, describing in detail the following aspects of the project.

■ Forward NH, Project Route, Clean Energy RFP

■ Financial

■ Public Health & Safety

■ System Reliability

■ Construction

■ Environmental

■ Tourism

■ Property Taxes

■ Property Values

■ Historical/ Archeological

■ Aesthetics

■ Orderly Development

 

What’s Next for Northern Pass

The Counsel for the Public and intervenors will continue presenting witnesses before the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC).

The SEC is expected to issue a decision on Northern Pass in early 2018.

The U.S. Forest Service is expected to issue its final Record of Decision later this year. In September, the Forest Service issued a draft Record of Decision recommending a special use permit to bury transmission lines along existing roads in the White Mountain National Forest.

The Dept. of Energy is expected to issue its Record of Decision and Presidential Permit this year.

Northern Pass representatives continue to meet with business owners along the route to discuss any concerns regarding the construction process.

Partners for NH's Fish and Wildlife Grant Award Ceremony, October 3, 2017

Partners for NH’s Fish and Wildlife Grant Award Ceremony, October 3, 2017

National Fish and Wildlife Grantees Announced at UNH Manchester Event

For the third consecutive year, Eversource’s and Northern Pass’ continued partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is helping environmental grant recipients to restore and preserve New Hampshire’s and New England’s forest and wildlife habitats. On October 3 at the University of New Hampshire Manchester campus, Eversource New Hampshire Operations President Bill Quinlan joined NFWF leaders in awarding four grants totaling nearly $400,000 funded through the Eversource-NFWF “Partners for New Hampshire’s Fish and Wildlife.”

NFWF works with a variety of stakeholders — private landowners, government agencies, academic institutions and conservation groups — to cultivate science-based conservation strategies and cost-effective on-the-ground projects.

“Partners for New Hampshire’s Fish and Wildlife is a proven example of the good that can happen when businesses and nonprofits link arms, and is in perfect step with Eversource’s commitment to environmental sustainability.” — Bill Quinlan

The 2017 Partners for NH’s Fish and Wildlife grant recipients are:

Vermont Center for Ecostudies, Inc. — this project will document how Bicknell’s thrush uses young forest habitat in managed commercial forest stands in Coös County and Maine. The project will use the data collected to revise and update the existing best management practices in timber forests.

University of New Hampshire — this project will develop forest management practices to benefit priority forest birds, including wood thrush and the black-throated blue warbler. The project will enable 82 landowners in the upper Androscoggin and Saco River watersheds to implement the appropriate management practices to improve the care of 1,500 acres of early successional and late successional habitat.

University of New Hampshire — for the first time, this project will document how New England cottontail and other young-forest-dependent species respond to planned early successional forest habitat management activities in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine. The project will result in the development of a landscape scale model to predict future abundance on 28,800 acres of restored habitat.

Belknap Conservation District — this project will restore instream habitat structure that will create pools and spawning habitat for Eastern brook trout on Poorfarm Brook in the Gunstock Recreation Area. The project will restore two miles of historic habitat to be used as a demonstration of the effectiveness of the technique.


Posted on November 13th, 2017 by

Posted In: newsletter, Permitting, Updates

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Posted on November 2nd, 2017 by

$15 million in clean energy benefits to New Hampshire customers

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.


Posted on November 2nd, 2017 by

Posted In: Filings, Permitting, SEC, Uncategorized

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Posted on September 11th, 2017 by

The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) will today hear from Terry DeWan and Jessica Kimball of  Terrence J. DeWan & Associates, a landscape architecture and planning firm located in Yarmouth, Maine. Both conducted research and compiled data that was submitted as part of the Northern Pass’ state application, including view simulations along the proposed route. Northern Pass has made the photo simulations of the proposed route available on its website.

Key Points:

  • A visual impact assessment, or VIA, is a systematic analysis of possible changes to the visible landscape resulting from proposed development activity, and the investigation of possible means to avoid, minimize or mitigate the effects of the change
  • The methodology follows a systematic path of inventory, analysis, and determination of effect. It is based upon established criteria developed by federal and state agencies over the past several decades, and is similar to previous work done with regards to transmission lines and other VIA projects
  • Scenic resources are defined as publicly accessible places that have been recognized by local, regional, state, or national authorities for their scenic or recreation quality and are visited by the general public, in part for the use, observation, enjoyment, and appreciation of natural, cultural, or visual qualities. All scenic resources that were identified within the Northern Pass Project Study Area were mapped and added to a database for further evaluation
  • Of the 525 scenic resources identified within three miles of the proposed route, none had overall visual impacts that were characterized as ‘high’, based on the observations and methodology used
  • A significant number of mitigation measures have been incorporated into the planning and design of Northern Pass including:
    • Locating portions of the Project underground to avoid sensitive scenic resources, such as the White Mountain National Forest
    • Using existing road rights-of-way (ROW) for most of the underground sections to minimize the need for new cleared transmission corridors
    • Co-locating the majority of the transmission line in existing transmission corridors to minimize the amount of new corridors
    • Using weathering steel monopole structures in certain areas results in a decrease in color contrasts with the surrounding landscape because they are generally darker in color and have a hue that is more commonly found in the landscape. Monopole structures also have a thinner profile and a simpler appearance than lattice structures
    • Locating new transmission structures in proximity to existing structures in certain locations to maintain the same spacing and avoid irregular linear patterns that can be caused by adjacent conductors being out of synch with each other
    • Matching the materials used for both the relocated 115 kV structures and the proposed transmission structures to minimize contrasts in color and texture and contribute to a sense of visual continuity within the corridor
    • Relocating existing transmission and distribution lines within the existing corridors to provide adequate clearance for the proposed structures and minimize the amount of clearing necessary for their installation
  • Northern Pass as a whole will not be a dominant feature in the landscape. The views from most of the scenic resources already contain evidence of existing human development, often prominently visible from the key observation points
  • Northern Pass will not result in unreasonable adverse effects on aesthetics, to either the six subareas that were identified or to the approximately 900 square-mile Project Study Area as a whole

 


Posted on September 11th, 2017 by

Posted In: Permitting, SEC

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Posted on September 6th, 2017 by

Draft Record of Decision Addresses Construction of Underground Line Along Existing Roads

The U.S. Forest Service has released its Draft Record of Decision (ROD) recommending that the agency issue a special use permit allowing Northern Pass Transmission to bury approximately eleven miles of transmission lines in areas along existing roads through the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF).  The Draft ROD represents another significant step forward for Northern Pass in the permitting process, and comes on the heels of the Final Environmental Impact Statement released by the U.S. Department of Energy last month – both highlighting the soundness of the proposal and the benefits to New Hampshire and the region.

“This proposed decision by the U.S. Forest Service continues to move Northern Pass forward so that it will have all necessary state and federal permits to begin construction by mid-2018,” Eversource New Hampshire President Bill Quinlan said.  “It is consistent with the key findings of other permitting agencies, including the Department of Energy, the NH Department of Environmental Services and the NH Department of Transportation.”

The Draft ROD is the culmination of seven years of review and extensive public input.  In 2015, Northern Pass announced an improved route that included 52 additional miles of underground to avoid any potential view impacts in and around the WMNF or along the Appalachian Trail.  The Draft ROD supports the project’s conclusion that burial along Interstate 93 is not a reasonable alternative, and states that the improved route “is a reasonable way to transmit electrical power through the WMNF in a minimally impactful way when considering all available alternatives.”

The following excerpts are from the Draft ROD:

  • “I fully understand and acknowledge that there will be short-term, construction-related, impacts to natural and cultural resources on the WMNF, visitors to the area, and private lands/properties located along NH Routes 112 and 116. My decision does not ignore or make light of these effects. I believe the intensity and duration of these effects is more than outweighed by the benefits associated with bringing additional hydropower to the New England grid.” 
  • I believe that the technology is comprehensive, and that the Applicant possesses the ability to effectively construct, operate, and maintain the line underground…Since these alternatives bury the line on the WMNF, instead of the initial proposal for overhead lines, I believe the tradeoffs and environmental impacts to the National Forest and connected areas under Alternatives 4c and 7 are reasonable.”
  • “…the alternatives utilizing I-93 are not consistent with my understanding of NHDOT policies…Therefore, I did not select alternatives that buried the transmission line across the WMNF in the I-93 corridor.

The Forest Service also notes that the project will increase the reliability of New England’s power supply, by reducing reliance on imported natural gas; help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions consistent with public policy goals and the New Hampshire Climate Action Plan; and, provide “meaningful benefits to air quality” in the White Mountain National Forest.

“Meeting long-term energy needs in a sustainable, secure, and cost-effective manner for this region of the country is certainly in the public’s interest,” the Forest Service states.

In the coming weeks, Northern Pass will continue to review the specifics contained in the Draft ROD.

Recent Project Milestones include:

  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has finalized a Programmatic Agreement (PA) regarding Northern Pass that prescribes the steps necessary to complete the federal and state agency review of historic and archeological resources, including addressing any adverse effects.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Northern Pass, concluding that the proposed route is the “preferred alternative,” that the project provides substantial benefits, and will result in only minimal impacts
  • Eversource, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Quanta Services, Inc., and ABB Inc. finalized a comprehensive Project Labor Agreement
  • The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NH PUC) has approved a request by Northern Pass to cross public waters and public lands
  • The NH PUC determined that Eversource has the legal authority to lease its existing rights-of-way to Northern Pass
  • The NH Site Evaluation Committee (NH SEC) completed the “discovery phase” of the permitting process, which involved nine months of data requests, document production and technical sessions. The final phase of the state permitting process began in April with the commencement of final adjudicative hearings. The hearings are the last step in the state siting process before the NH SEC makes its decision on Northern Pass
  • The New Hampshire Department of Transportation issued its final report to the NH SEC recommending approval of the project
  • The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) issued four key approvals of the project, pertaining 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 SEC and, per DES, mark the conclusion of the agency’s review of the project’s siting application

Posted on September 6th, 2017 by

Posted In: Permitting, Uncategorized, Updates