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.
Northern Pass today filed its final brief with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee. This is a significant step that will lead into the deliberative sessions beginning on January 30. The Executive Summary of this brief highlights our position that Northern Pass satisfies the four statutory criteria necessary for issuance of a Certificate of Site and Facility.
View the Executive Summary here.
View the Northern Pass Final Brief here.
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 final witnesses for Northern Pass completed their testimony before the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) on Monday, 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
Tourism Property Taxes
Property Values Historical/Archeological
Aesthetics Orderly Development
The SEC also heard from members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) last week, who testified about the job opportunities available for New Hampshire workers, as well as Allen Bouthillier, Lancaster business owner and member of the Coös County Business and Employers Group, who spoke about the economic opportunities Northern Pass will bring to the North Country.
The Counsel for the Public and intervenors are set to begin presenting their witness testimony later this week.
Other Recent Project Milestones include:
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) today began hearing testimony from President of Normandeau Associates and former New England Regional Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Robert Varney about his review of Northern Pass and how it relates to the orderly development of New Hampshire. Below is more information about Varney and a summary of his findings, provided in his pre-filed testimony submitted to the SEC.
ROBERT VARNEY is the President of Normandeau Associates, an environmental science consulting firm based in Bedford, where he began in 2009 as Executive Vice President. He served nearly eight years as Regional Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, New England; as the Executive Director of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission and the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission; as senior planner at the Lakes Region Planning Commission; as the Commissioner of the NH Department of Environmental Services from 1989 to 2001; and as Chairman of the NH Site Evaluation Committee for that same 12-year period. In addition, Mr. Varney has worked on initiatives associated with climate change, energy efficiency and renewable energy, integration of energy and environmental programs, and restoration of rivers, lakes, and coastal areas. He will speak on the impact the Northern Pass Transmission Project will have on air quality and the project’s consistency with the goals of state, regional, and national air quality and climate change policies.
For More Information:
Northern Pass’ application to the NH Site Evaluation Committee; Vol. II; Pre-Filed Testimony; Varney
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) issued an order yesterday outlining procedures for the rest of the Northern Pass hearing schedule that could affect the date of the final decision. We appreciate the SEC’s efforts to ensure the remainder of the hearings are not, as they state, “bogged down by unnecessary and inefficient friendly cross-examination.” The SEC further concludes that it would be “unreasonable” to accept the amount of time requested by interveners. We are encouraged that the SEC is taking steps to ensure efficiency for the balance of the proceedings and remain hopeful that the process will be complete earlier than the recently announced March deadline.
Excerpts from the procedural order:
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 NH Site Evaluation Committee today voted to extend the deadline for their final written decision on Northern Pass by six months, to March 31, 2018.
Northern Pass is disappointed in today’s decision considering this review process was already extended by nine months, from what was originally a 12-month process under recently enacted NH law.
We’re encouraged by the SEC’s willingness to pursue options for concluding the review in advance of the new deadline.
We remain confident in our ability to achieve a 2020 in-service date. Further, we are convinced that we have submitted the most mature project into the Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP and we continue to believe that we will be in a position to start construction in the second quarter of 2018.
Northern Pass Achieves Key Permitting Milestone
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for Northern Pass on August 10, concluding the project’s proposed route is the “preferred alternative.” The final EIS also stated that Northern Pass provides substantial environmental and economic benefits for New Hampshire and the region and will result in only minimal impacts. Required by the National Environmental Policy Act, the FEIS is the result of years of review of project environmental impacts and reflects the careful consideration of thousands of comments submitted by key stakeholders and the public.
Northern Pass is now awaiting the issuance of its federal permits, including DOE’s Presidential Permit, a Special Use Permit from the U.S. Forest Service, and the Section 404 Permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Northern Pass has already received the final permitting decisions from New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services, Public Utilities Commissions and Department of Transportation, and continued with final hearings before the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee in August.
Conclusions from the Final Environmental Impact Statement
REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
MEETING THE REGION’S ENERGY NEEDS
ECONOMIC BOOST FOR N.H.
OTHER BENEFITS FOR N.H. In addition to the benefits highlighted in the FEIS, Northern Pass will provide — and in some cases has already provided — significant investment in on-the-ground conservation and economic development programs.
What’s Next for Northern Pass
Site Tours Along North Country, Underground Route
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) recently toured a number of sites along the proposed Northern Pass routes. The visits, held on July 27 and 28, included stops in Pittsburg, Clarksville, Stewartstown, Dummer, Stark, Lancaster, Bethlehem, Franconia, Easton and Woodstock.
The locations of these stops were proposed by Counsel for the Public in a request that the SEC consider viewing portions of the proposed underground burial route as well as proposed additional above-ground sites in northern New Hampshire.
The July visits were in addition to four days of site visits held in March 2016 that included stops in Pittsburg, Clarksville, Stewartstown, Colebrook, Stark, Lancaster, Whitefield, Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Bristol, Franklin, Canterbury, Concord, Pembroke, Allenstown and Deerfield.
Northern Pass Reaffirms Commitment to Hiring Local Workers First
Northern Pass has long been committed to hiring New Hampshire workers first for the construction of Northern Pass. Eversource, Northern Pass’ parent company, recently reaffirmed that commitment with a project labor agreement. On August 7, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) announced a finalized agreement that covers both union workers and non-union workers and businesses, including workers needed for the construction of access roads, logging and clearing, trucking and other key construction-related activities.
The announcement is positive news for New Hampshire’s electrical workers as Northern Pass now presents an opportunity for them to work on a project in their home state, closer to their family and friends.
Tiler Eaton of the IBEW said, “Given the size of this project and the number of trained electrical workers needed, we anticipate this project will not only fully utilize all available New Hampshire members, but will also provide work for hundreds of our members from Massachusetts.” You can read the announcement on the Northern Pass website in our Document Library, www.northernpass.us/document-library.htm.
The N.H. Site Evaluation Committee will hear testimony today from historical and archeological experts who conducted research about the route for Northern Pass. Below you will find information about these experts and information about their work.
CHERILYN WIDELL is principal of Widell Preservation Services in Chestertown, Maryland, and has worked in the field of historic preservation throughout the United States and internationally for 40 years. She was appointed by the Governor of California to serve as State Historic Preservation Officer with oversight of all aspects of historic resource protection throughout California. Ms. Widell also served as the federal preservation officer for the Presidio Trust—the federal agency responsible for the conversion of the Presidio of San Francisco from an Army post to a National Park—where she was responsible for agency compliance with federal regulations for more than 450 historic buildings and the archeological resources. Ms. Widell conducted assessments of the potential effects that the Northern Pass project may have on above-ground historic properties and cultural landscapes in New Hampshire.
VICTORIA BUNKER is the owner and principal investigator at Victoria Bunker, Inc., archeological consultants in Alton, NH. She has more than 35 years of experience in New England archeology, and is listed as qualified to conduct archeological surveys in New Hampshire by the NH Division of Historical Resources. In her career, Dr. Bunker has completed 750 projects relative to Section 106 compliance at Phase I, II and III level of study, and has conducted regional research surveys in the Lamprey, Merrimack, Pemigewasset and Mad River Valleys and throughout the White Mountain National Forest. She has authored numerous publications on New England archaeology and served the New Hampshire Archeological Society as President Emeritus, on the Board of Directors, and as past editor. Dr. Bunker conducted archaeological assessments for Northern Pass.
Facts at a Glance:
The review of the potential impact of the Northern Pass project on historic and archeological resources is required under the state’s energy project siting laws, and also by the U.S. DOE under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
For More Information: