(May 9, 2017) – The New Hampshire House Science, Technology and Energy Committee (ST&E) voted today, 20-1, to retain SB 128, a bill aimed at clarifying the authority of the NH Public Utilities Commission (PUC) under New Hampshire’s electric restructuring law to consider opportunities by electric utilities to lower consumers’ energy costs.
Clarifying the authority of the New Hampshire PUC to assess the benefits of such measures would ensure consideration of a power purchase agreement (PPA) between Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) and Hydro-Québec (HQ). The proposed PPA would provide 100 MW of favorably priced Northern Pass power to PSNH customers for 20 years.
Importantly, the PPA is not a requirement for state siting approval of Northern Pass by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee. Rather, it was provided in response to New Hampshire stakeholders’ requests for unique clean energy benefits from Northern Pass, above and beyond those received by other New England states.
“We understand the importance of considering this proposed legislation carefully,” said Bill Quinlan, President of NH Operations at Eversource. “We are committed to continuing to work intently with the NH Legislature, the PUC, and other parties to identify solutions for delivering much-needed energy rate relief for our customers.”
“We stand by our commitment to our New Hampshire neighbors, and look forward to delivering the benefits of the PPA in the future, should such an opportunity arise” said Steve Demers, Hydro-Québec’s Vice President of Business Development.
The PPA is only one element of Northern Pass’ robust Forward NH Plan, which will provide more than $3 billion in benefits to New Hampshire. A significant component of this plan is an estimated $600 million annually in regional energy cost savings separate and apart from the PSNH-HQ PPA. These savings result by adding a new and substantial supply of reliable power to the region’s electric grid at Deerfield, NH, which results in a more competitive market and lowers wholesale energy power prices for all New England consumers. New Hampshire’s share of this reduction is projected to be more than $60 million a year.
The Forward NH Plan will also provide about $30 million annually in new tax revenues, create about 2,600 construction jobs, and provide $200 million in funding for community betterment, economic development, clean energy and tourism. Moreover, Northern Pass will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 3 million tons a year.
SB 128 will remain in the House ST&E Committee for further work and consideration this session. The Committee has until the end of 2017 to vote on the bill. SB 128 will then move to the full NH House of Representatives for a vote in January, at the start of its 2018 session.
Northern Pass is in the final stages of securing necessary state and federal permits, with decisions expected this year.
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) will hear today about the impact Northern Pass will have on system stability and reliability, as well as the ISO New England I.3.9 process as part of its ongoing review of the project.
The final hearing today will include Robert Andrew, Director of System Solutions for Eversource. Andrew has more than 35 years of experience in the electrical generation and distribution industry and is responsible for ensuring the optimal performance of Eversource’s electric transmission and distribution system. This includes developing and executing system improvements, collaborating on project designs, and participating in the ISO New England Planning Process.
In July 2016, ISO New England approved the project’s I.3.9 application, determining that the current Northern Pass proposal to deliver 1,090 megawatts of electricity can reliably interconnect with the regional electric grid and 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 to be connected to the New England grid. In 2014, ISO New England approved the I.3.9 application for the project’s original 1,200 megawatt proposal.
Key points that will likely be discussed include:
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee’s final hearings on Northern Pass continue today with a look at the technical, financial and managerial capabilities of the project. Final hearings began on Thursday with a discussion about the Northern Pass route, the Forward NH Plan, benefits for New Hampshire and the Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP.
Today’s hearing will include Kenneth Bowes, Eversource Vice President of Engineering, who is responsible for engineering activities for Eversource’s electric transmission and distribution system, and Michael Auseré, Certified Public Accountant and Vice President of Energy Planning and Economics for Eversource, who will speak to Northern Pass’ financial capability to construct and operate the project.
Other topics that will likely be discussed include:
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 Transportation (NH DOT) issued its final report to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (NH SEC) recommending approval of the project. This follows the March 1 announcement by the NH Department of Environmental Services which also recommended approval of the project. Both are essential components of the state siting process being conducted by the NH SEC, which is scheduled to render a final decision on the Northern Pass application later this year.
The approval by the NH DOT follows a series of important milestones and achievements for Northern Pass, which include:
This week, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) dismissed a Petition for Approval of a power purchase agreement (PPA) between affiliates of Eversource and Hydro-Québec that is intended to ensure New Hampshire electric customers receive benefits from the Northern Pass project above and beyond what others in New England could receive. The PPA is not a requirement of the Northern Pass state permitting process, which moves into final hearings in April; however, such an agreement was desired as one aspect of the project’s direct benefits to New Hampshire.
Many people across the state, from the top political leaders to businesses and residential customers, suggested that New Hampshire receive its fair share of the power from Northern Pass in addition to the other benefits the project will bring. The PPA would ensure just that.
The PUC said that approving the PPA would be inconsistent with NH’s existing electric utility Restructuring Act, which was enacted in 1996 with the intention of lowering electricity rates for New Hampshire residents and businesses. The New Hampshire Legislature is currently considering a bill, SB 128, which would make it clear that the PUC has the authority to consider and approve measures that would lower costs for consumers, such as the PPA. The bill would allow the PUC to consider whether the PPA is likely to provide cost saving benefits to customers. That legislation does not provide any authority to shift costs of Northern Pass onto New Hampshire ratepayers as some have suggested. To the contrary, SB 128 expressly forbids inclusion of new infrastructure costs, such as Northern Pass, into customer rates.
We continue to support the effort to provide New Hampshire customers with unique economic benefits from this project, and will work with the Legislature and the PUC as necessary to provide a mechanism for the benefits of the PPA to be used to lower customers’ electric bills in New Hampshire. With or without the PPA, the overarching benefits Northern Pass will bring to the state – including 2,600 jobs, millions in local tax revenue, and the $200 million Forward NH Fund – will be substantial.
Below is a press release issued today by Eversource and Hydro-Québec (PDF version here):
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (March 31, 2017) – In response to recent inquiries concerning the Northern Pass project, Eversource Energy and Hydro-Québec wish to reaffirm their mutual and strong commitment to the project and provide clarity about how the project will be funded.
“We are proud to partner with Hydro-Québec to deliver clean, reliable hydropower into New England,” said Jim Judge, President & CEO of Eversource Energy. “We are both committed to Northern Pass as part of the solution to New England’s energy challenges, and look forward to a successful outcome in the final stages of state and federal permitting in 2017.”
Northern Pass Transmission, Inc. (NPT), a wholly owned subsidiary of Eversource Energy, is developing the U.S. transmission project to interconnect with Hydro-Québec’s system and allow the delivery of 1,090 MW of clean hydropower into New England. NPT is responsible for financing and constructing the project, and will then recover its costs once the project is in service delivering power to the region. It is the method by which project costs will be recovered that has raised questions recently.
When the project was initiated, it was expected that NPT would recover its costs through future revenues that Hydro-Québec would receive from the delivery of energy into the New England wholesale market. More recently, however, alternative methods to pay for new transmission projects have been proposed by states seeking to procure deliveries of clean energy to meet their climate and energy diversity goals.
The next significant opportunity will occur this spring, when Massachusetts solicits proposals for large quantities of clean energy. If NPT is selected, its costs will be paid by the distribution companies that purchase Hydro-Québec’s clean energy. The Transmission Services Agreement (TSA), which was initially approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2011 and remains in effect today, will be amended and supplemented to reflect the outcome of the Massachusetts solicitation.
“Alongside Eversource, we are very much looking forward to participating in the upcoming Massachusetts request for proposals. The clean energy legislation adopted by Massachusetts recognizes the important role of hydropower in the supply mix. We already supply over 10% of New England’s electricity, but Hydro-Québec can do more to help the region meet its ambitious carbon reduction goals,” said Éric Martel, Hydro-Québec CEO.
Importantly, continued development of NPT does not depend on the outcome of any one solicitation, and Eversource and Hydro-Québec will continue to evaluate future opportunities as they arise. There is a clear and growing demand for clean energy in New England as the region faces the retirement of many older generating units and the need to achieve the region’s environmental objectives. Meeting this demand will require that additional energy infrastructure be built. To help meet this demand, Eversource Energy and Hydro-Québec stand firmly behind the Northern Pass project, and believe it will deliver significant value to the province of Québec and advance New England’s clean energy future.
The Northern Pass is a 192-mile electric transmission line project that will bring New Hampshire and the rest of New England 1,090 megawatts of clean hydropower. This reliable and affordable source of power will also bring a wide range of benefits exclusively to New Hampshire, including millions of dollars in energy cost savings, additional tax revenue, and jobs during construction. To learn more about Northern Pass, go to www.northernpass.us. You can also email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-286-7305.
Eversource (NYSE: ES) transmits and delivers electricity and natural gas for more than 3.6 million electric and natural gas customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Eversource harnesses the commitment of its more than 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 (www.eversource.com) and follow us on Twitter (@EversourceCorp) and Facebook (facebook.com/EversourceEnergy).
Hydro-Québec generates, transmits and distributes electricity. Its sole shareholder is the Québec government. While using mainly hydroelectric generation, it supports the development of other technologies—such as wind energy and biomass—through purchases from independent power producers. It also conducts R&D in energy-related fields, including energy efficiency. The company has four divisions: Hydro-Québec Production, Hydro-Québec Transénergie , Hydro-Québec Distribution and Hydro-Québec Équipement et services partagés and Société d’énergie de la Baie James (SEBJ), a subsidiary of Hydro-Québec. For more information, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter (@HydroQuébec).
There have been questions raised recently about the cost of the Northern Pass project and the means of recovery of those expenses. The statement below is an explanation of the continued relationship between Northern Pass and Hydro-Québec.
Eversource and Hydro-Québec have had a long-standing partnership to develop a transmission project that would deliver much-needed clean hydropower from Québec to New England energy consumers. Northern Pass Transmission, an Eversource subsidiary, will finance and build Northern Pass, the US portion of the transmission project. Hydro-Québec will do the same for the Canadian portion of the project.
The cost of Northern Pass will be recovered through use of the transmission line for delivery of energy to New England.
There is currently a large and growing demand for clean energy in the region to replace retiring generating units and meet aggressive carbon reduction goals. The next significant opportunity will occur later this spring when Massachusetts begins a solicitation process to secure long-term commitments to deliver large amounts of clean energy to the Commonwealth. Eversource and HQ are working together to submit a very competitive proposal to Massachusetts for the delivery of hydropower from Québec using the Northern Pass transmission line, which will go a long way towards achieving the Commonwealth’s goals.
Recovery of the Northern Pass project costs will be part of the proposal. However, as we have stated previously, New Hampshire consumers will not pay for any costs associated with the project.
False information is being circulated via social media by anonymous groups opposed to Northern Pass. These groups remain anonymous, refusing to provide information about who they are or who funds them, all while attempting to influence New Hampshire’s elected officials and regulators.
The latest effort by a group called No to Northern Pass makes a false claim that the project, “is asking the NH Public Utilities Commission to approve charging its customers for the construction and maintenance costs of Northern Pass. These construction costs would be passed on to the NH ratepayers, causing higher bills for the next 40 years.” The message goes on to tell readers to contact the Governor-elect and members of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
Northern Pass has made it clear from the day the project was first announced that New Hampshire customers will not pay for the project. In fact, New Hampshire will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits that are unique to the state.
As Northern Pass continues to advance through the state and federal permitting processes, it is likely that anonymous groups like No to Northern Pass and Protect the Granite State will continue to try to disrupt the public processes designed to fairly evaluate projects like Northern Pass. We will continue to alert you when that happens.
New Hampshire and the region face serious energy challenges, as evidenced by this recent front page story in the New Hampshire Union Leader. New energy projects deserve a fair review process based on the facts. New Hampshire deserves better than outside anonymous groups attempting to use false information to influence decision-makers.
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.