The N.H. Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) today voted to suspend its oral decision. Our statement is below.
We understand the SEC’s decision to suspend its February 1st oral decision, pending issuance of a written order.
We hope it is an indication that the SEC will evaluate the required statutory criteria, as well as thoroughly consider all of the conditions that could provide the basis for granting approval. At a time when the region needs new and diverse sources of clean energy, it is vitally important that projects like Northern Pass are considered fully and efficiently and without unnecessary delay.
Northern Pass is the most advanced clean energy project in the region, having received all major permits from the U.S. and Canadian federal governments after years of rigorous review, as well as approvals from all state permitting agencies other than the SEC (e.g., DOT, DES, DHR, PUC). It is well-positioned to help New Hampshire and New England address critical energy needs and clean energy goals.
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) recently voted after only 2.5 days of deliberations to deny Northern Pass a Certificate of Site and Facility, which would have allowed the project to be built in New Hampshire. The SEC’s action shocked many engaged in the process and sent a chilling signal to any developer considering siting new energy infrastructure in New Hampshire. Northern Pass will be submitting a rehearing request soon. You can learn more about how you can participate in this process here.
The SEC, by its own admission, chose to stop its deliberations after considering just half of the legal criteria it is obligated to study under the law. In our view, the SEC failed its most basic responsibility: to fully evaluate our application, including proposed conditions that would address concerns the committee members may have expressed, and to ensure all committee members understand the legal standard and how to apply it in a manner consistent with the law and past precedent. We believe we have a very strong case to make in seeking a rehearing with the SEC or with a court appeal.
The SEC’s cursory review and hasty deliberation are in sharp contrast to the extensive effort Northern Pass undertook to demonstrate that it more than satisfied the legal criteria for project approval. This effort included:
New Hampshire and the region have been challenged for years with some of the highest electric rates in the country. This burden has affected Granite State businesses and manufacturers, home owners and communities alike. Northern Pass is the most advanced clean energy project in the region, and able to deliver lower energy costs, improved reliability, and lower carbon emissions—as early as 2020. In addition, it will provide more than $3 billion in economic and environmental benefits to New Hampshire.
We feel strongly that the merits of the project, including the robust benefits it will provide, are too important for Granite State energy consumers to let the SEC’s recent decision stand. Northern Pass must be reconsidered fairly, with appropriate conditions, to ensure that it moves forward expeditiously.
The Forest Service says project is in “public interest” and provides “meaningful benefits to air quality” in the Forest
Manchester, N.H. (January 8, 2018) – The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has released its final Record of Decision (ROD) 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 decision is the result of a thorough environmental analysis and public engagement process led by two WMNF supervisors over a seven-year period, and comes on the heels of a Record of Decision and Presidential Permit issued by the U.S. Department of Energy late last year. The USFS will issue the necessary Special Use Authorization to allow the project to be buried within the WMNF. With these approvals secured, the project is well-positioned to begin construction in mid-2018, and to bring an additional 1,090 MW of much-needed clean hydroelectric power into the region by late 2020.
“We appreciate the diligent work done by the USFS and WMNF staff over the years, and are gratified that they have concluded the benefits of Northern Pass more than outweigh the short-term construction impacts on the Forest,” said Eversource New Hampshire President Bill Quinlan. “When we proposed an underground cable for the WMNF portion of the route, we believed it was the best option for the Forest and for New Hampshire. We’re pleased to see that the USFS agrees.”
The Forest Service notes that Northern Pass 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 WMNF.
Highlights from the Final ROD include:
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 final 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 final hearings before the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) were completed today, concluding the testimony and cross-examination of more than 120 witnesses over an eight-month period. Briefs from the parties including their final arguments, will be filed with the SEC in mid-January. Counsel for the Public and intervenor briefs are due January 12, 2018, and Northern Pass’ brief is due January 19, 2018.
In November, the SEC issued a notice of deliberations, signaling the final stage of the state permitting process for Northern Pass. Twelve days of public deliberations will begin January 30th, leading to an oral decision by February 23rd, 2018, and a final written decision by March 31, 2018. With the state, federal and Canadian permitting processes nearing completion, Northern Pass is on track to begin construction by spring 2018 and in-service by the end of 2020.
Northern Pass achieved a number of milestones this year, positioning itself as the most advanced clean energy project in New England. From the issuance of the Presidential Permit to securing major contractors, Northern Pass enters 2018 expecting the conclusion of the state and federal permitting process and construction to begin in the spring.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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).
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 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.
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:
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: