The following op-ed by Martin Murray, spokesman for Northern Pass, recently appeared in a number of New Hampshire newspapers, including the Laconia Daily Sun.
Northern Pass is Committed to Working with Businesses Along the Route
By Martin Murray
Earlier this month, the U.S. Forest Service issued a draft Record of Decision recommending approval of Northern Pass’ underground route within the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF). It said the project is in the public interest because it will meet the region’s “long-term energy needs in a sustainable, secure, and cost-effective manner.” Northern Pass is a clean energy project that will transmit enough hydropower to power 1 million homes. It will reduce CO2 emissions by 3.2 million metric tons a year, the equivalent of taking 670,000 cars off the road. The project is consistent with New Hampshire’s Clean Energy Action Plan and will provide an affordable and reliable baseload source of clean energy as older power plants close and we continue to add more intermittent sources such as solar and wind.
The draft Record of Decision also supports the project’s proposed route, saying it “is a reasonable way to transmit electrical power through the WMNF in a minimally impactful way when considering all available alternatives.”
The decision to bury the project for a total of 60 miles, with 52 of those miles in and around the White Mountain National Forest, came after numerous meetings with New Hampshire residents and stakeholders, who emphasized the importance of avoiding view impacts in that region. The improved route does just that, eliminating view impacts in the Forest, Franconia State Park area, and along the Appalachian Trail.
The improved route is part of our effort to reduce the impact to New Hampshire while also bringing affordably-priced clean energy to the region. We’ve also reached out to each community along the route to discuss how best to avoid impacts during construction. Through mutually agreed upon memorandums of understanding, or MOUs, Northern Pass can address a community’s unique needs, such as consideration of community events and other local and seasonal activities, equipment storage and staging areas, coordination with emergency responders, and establishing responsibility for any damage to roads. We have already signed MOUs with four towns and are in discussions with others.
We appreciate that running a small business can be challenging and that a project of this magnitude may cause concern. We know we must find ways to lessen the impact of construction, and we will work with local chambers and other groups to promote and support uninterrupted commerce throughout construction. Northern Pass has submitted a construction plan to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee that includes regular communications with business owners, traffic management plans, signage directing customers to temporary parking, outreach to customers through newspapers and other media, and a special “hotline” and online communications for quick response to problems, should they arise.
We have made a pledge to hire New Hampshire workers first. Workers who, as much as any small business owner along the route, want to see this state succeed. Those workers will need to fill up their gas tanks, grab a meal, wash their clothes, spend the night, and make other purchases while on the job. These are purchases that will be made in towns along and around the route, and economic data shows spending associated with Northern Pass will boost New Hampshire’s economy, not diminish it.
Northern Pass has sent letters and updates to landowners and businesses along the route, asking for feedback and inviting anyone with questions or concerns to give us a call. We are a New Hampshire company with many long-time New Hampshire residents working to bring more clean energy to the region. We want to see New Hampshire businesses grow and succeed, and are dedicated to working with local officials, meeting with businesses and communicating to residents and tourists alike that their favorite destinations are open for business.
Any business owner who would like to talk to a Northern Pass representative may do so by calling 1-800-286-7305.
A letter this week from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding potential impacts along the northernmost area of the proposed Northern Pass route contains no new information and Eversource has confirmed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) that the letter will not affect the decision regarding a required ACOE wetlands permit. It is also important to note that Northern Pass does not require a permit from the U.S. EPA. The agency’s letter this week was directed to the ACOE, which is expected to issue a required wetlands permit to Northern Pass before the end of the year. EPA’s comments were a repeat of what the agency said last year. Northern Pass responded to the EPA in an October, 2016 letter, noting that “our proposed route is the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative…” Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy last month issued the project a Final Environmental Impact Statement, concluding that the proposed Northern Pass route is the “preferred alternative,” that the project provides substantial benefits, and will result in only minimal impacts.
The N.H. Department of Environmental Services issued a state wetlands permit to Northern Pass in March, 2017, following a comprehensive review, including a study of the issues originally raised by the EPA last year and Northern Pass’ wetlands mitigation plan. The project’s wetlands mitigation plan includes a $3 million payment to the N.H. Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund (ARM) and the dedication of 1,627 acres of approved land for wetland mitigation – exceeding the state and federal requirements for wetlands mitigation the project must meet. The mitigation package also includes eight conservation sites which are valued for having numerous wetlands, floodplains, streams, vernal pools, or are connected to other conservation lands.
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 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:
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has finalized a Programmatic Agreement (PA) regarding Northern Pass, which marks further progress in the federal permitting process for the clean energy project. The PA is a legally binding agreement that prescribes the steps necessary to complete the federal and state agency review of historic and archeological resources, including addressing any adverse effects. The PA is part of a larger process under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, and is separate from the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) environmental review.
The signatories to the PA include officials from DOE, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Interior, the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, and Northern Pass Transmission.
Recent Project Milestones include:
The NH Site Evaluation Committee recently heard testimony on how Northern Pass relates to property values. Below is information about the testimony from real estate appraiser Dr. Jim Chalmers.
JAMES CHALMERS is the Principal of Chalmers & Associations LLC in Billings, Montana, and is an economist, appraiser, and nationally recognized expert in assessing the impacts of large-scale infrastructure projects on the value of real estate. Dr. Chalmers holds a Certified General Real Estate Appraiser license in several states. For the Northern Pass, Dr. Chalmers conducted analysis of the possible effects of the project on property values in local and regional real estate markets.
For More Information:
Northern Pass’ application to the NH Site Evaluation Committee; Vol. II; Pre-Filed Testimony; Chalmers http://www.northernpass.us/assets/filings/Volume%20II/NHSEC%20Docket%20No%202015-06%20Pre-Filed%20Testimony.pdf
The NH Site Evaluation Committee recently heard testimony on how Northern Pass relates to tourism in the state. Below is information about tourism expert Mitch Nichols and his testimony.
MITCH NICHOLS is Founder and President of Nichols Tourism Group in Bellingham, Washington. He has more than 20 years of experience working with and analyzing tourism destinations across the country. He has worked with states including Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Washington to develop a long-range tourism strategic plan and an assessment of its identity in the tourism marketplace. Mr. Nichols has also worked on broad strategic planning efforts for destinations like Sarasota, Florida, the Mt. Hood region in Oregon, and Ashville, North Carolina, as well as heritage destinations such as Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg, Virginia. Mr. Nichols has provided an assessment of the New Hampshire tourism industry in relation to the Northern Pass project.
For More Information:
Northern Pass’ application to the NH Site Evaluation Committee; Vol. II; Pre-Filed Testimony; Nichols
Public input is an essential part of the permitting process for energy projects in New Hampshire. Over the last several years, Granite Staters have had many opportunities to provide state and federal officials with feedback about the Northern Pass proposal, with more opportunities still to come. Comments have been submitted in person and in writing to both the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee and the U.S. Department of Energy, agencies charged with reviewing and permitting the project.
Below is a list of public hearings which were held to provide information about the project and give residents an opportunity to meet with Northern Pass experts, as well as let state and federal officials know their thoughts on the project. These hearings are in addition to the written comments submitted to state and federal officials.
|NHSEC Meeting Summary|
|Event Name||Event Type||Date||Venue||Town||County|
|Public Information Session – Merrimack||Pre-Filing (SEC)
|9/2/2015||Grappone Conference Center||Concord||Merrimack|
|Public Information Session – Rockingham||Pre-Filing (SEC) *Open House||9/3/2015||Deerfield Fair Pavilion||Deerfield||Rockingham|
|Public Information Session – Grafton||Pre-Filing (SEC) *Open House||9/8/2015||Mountain Club on Loon Resort||Lincoln||Grafton|
|Public Information Session – Coos||Pre-Filing (SEC) *Open House||9/9/2015||Mountain View Grand||Whitefield||Coos|
|Public Information Session – Belknap||Pre-Filing (SEC) *Open House||9/10/2015||Lake Opechee Inn & Spa||Laconia||Belknap|
|Public Information Session – Merrimack||45-day Post Filing (SEC) *Open House||1/11/2016||Franklin Opera House||Franklin||Merrimack|
|Public Information Session – Rockingham||45-day Post Filing (SEC) *Open House||1/13/2016||Londonderry High School||Londonderry||Rockingham|
|Public Information Session – Belknap||45-day Post Filing (SEC) *Open House||1/14/2016||Lake Opechee Inn & Spa||Laconia||Belknap|
|Public Information Session – Coos||45-day Post Filing (SEC) *Open House||1/20/2016||Mountain View Grand||Whitefield||Coos|
|Public Information Session – Grafton||45-day Post Filing (SEC) *Open House||1/21/2016||Mountain Club on Loon Resort||Lincoln||Grafton|
|Public Information Session – Belknap||90-day Post Filing (SEC)||3/1/2016||Mill Falls at the Lake||Meredith||Belknap|
|Public Information Session – Coos||90-day Post Filing (SEC)||3/7/2016||Colebrook Elementary School||Colebrook||Coos|
|SEC Bus Tour||Bus Tour||3/7/2016||Coos (north)|
|SEC Bus Tour||Bus Tour||3/7/2016||Coos (south)|
|Public Information Session – Merrimack||90-day Post Filing (SEC)||3/10/2016||Grappone Conference Center||Concord||Merrimack
|Public Information Session – Grafton||90-day Post Filing (SEC)||3/14/2016||Plymouth State University||Holderness||Grafton|
|SEC Bus Tour||Bus Tour||3/14/2016||Merrimack|
|Public Information Session – Rockingham||90-day Post Filing (SEC)||3/16/2016||Deerfield Fair Pavilion||Deerfield||Rockingham|
|SEC Bus Tour||Bus Tour||3/16/2016||Merrimack (south)
|Public Information Session – Coos||Additional
|5/19/2016||Mountain View Grand||Whitefield||Coos|
|Public Information Session – Grafton||Additional
|6/23/2016||Plymouth High School||Plymouth||Grafton|
|Public Comment||Hearing||6/15/2017||49 Donavan St||Concord||Merrimack|
|Public Comment||Hearing||6/22/2017||49 Donavan St||Concord||Merrimack|
|Public Comment||Hearing||7/20/2017||49 Donavan St||Concord||Merrimack|
|SEC Bus Tour||Bus Tour||7/27/2017||Coos|
|SEC Bus Tour||Bus Tour||7/28/2017||Grafton|
USDOE Meeting Summary
|DOE Public Comment Hearing||Scoping Hearing (DOE)||10/6/2015||Grappone Conference Center||Concord||Merrimack|
|DOE Public Comment Hearing||Scoping Hearing (DOE)||10/7/2015||Mountain View Grand||Whitefield||Coos|
|DOE Public Comment Hearing||Scoping Hearing (DOE)||10/8/2015||Plymouth State University||Holderness||Grafton
|DOE Public Comment Hearing (jointly w/ SEC)||Scoping Hearing (DOE||3/7/2016||Colebrook Elementary School||Colebrook||Coos
|DOE Public Comment Hearing (jointly w/ SEC)||Scoping Hearing (DOE)||3/10/2016||Grappone Conference Center||Concord||Merrimack
|DOE Public Comment Hearing||Scoping Hearing (DOE)||3/9/2016||Waterville Valley Event Center||Waterville Valley||Grafton|
|DOE Public Comment Hearing||Scoping Hearing (DOE)||3/11/2016||Mountain View Grand||Whitefield||Coos|
The following press release was issued by Eversource on July 27, 2017. For relevant materials, click here.
Proposals will offer substantial environmental and economic benefits to consumers in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New England
MANCHESTER, N.H. (July 27, 2017) – Eversource and Hydro-Québec (HQ) today submitted two comprehensive proposals in response to the Massachusetts Clean Energy solicitation. Both proposals would use the Northern Pass Transmission project (NPT) to deliver significant amounts of clean energy to the New England grid, interconnecting in New Hampshire. The solicitation is the result of a law passed last year by the Massachusetts Legislature to provide for new sources of clean energy for decades into the future. The two proposals are a 100 percent hydropower option and a hydropower and onshore wind combination option, and both highlight NPT’s advanced project development and Eversource’s extensive experience in building and operating the transmission grid in the region.
“Northern Pass is the most mature and comprehensive solution to meet the region’s clean energy goals and will help provide stability over the price and supply of the energy for years to come,” said Lee Olivier, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at Eversource Energy. “As New England’s largest utility, we are uniquely positioned to deliver on that promise. We are excited to begin delivering the substantial benefits of this project to consumers throughout the region.”
The Northern Pass transmission line begins at the Canadian border in Pittsburg, New Hampshire and extends 192 miles 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. NPT 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-NE.
Northern Pass will soon be a shovel-ready project with all major state and federal permits expected in 2017. Moreover, all major contractor and equipment contracts are fully executed to begin construction early in 2018. The majority of the project’s construction will take place in 2018 and 2019. A project labor agreement has been executed and is expected to generate thousands of jobs during peak construction for both Granite State and Bay State workers. Northern Pass will be substantially complete by the third quarter of 2020, and following testing, the line will be in service by the end of 2020 – prior to the critical 2020-2021 winter period.
Clean Energy Solutions
The 100 percent hydropower option included in the Northern Pass bid would deliver 1,090 megawatts of clean hydroelectric energy and the associated environmental attributes from HQ’s existing resources. A second option would combine predominantly firm hydropower from HQ with new wind generation located in Québec, provided by a partnership of wind developers, Gaz Métro and Boralex. The wind power will be backed by hydropower and includes Class I Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Both options guarantee a firm delivery of 1,090 megawatts of clean energy year round, including winter and summer days when demand for energy is greatest.
Achieving Environmental Benefits and Reducing Costs
Northern Pass will be capable of providing up to 9.4 terawatt hours of clean energy that the Massachusetts legislation requires on an annual basis while helping the Bay State attain the clean energy goals required by its Global Warming Solutions Act. The project will also reduce wholesale energy costs, diversify the region’s energy mix, and help fill the gap created by the retirement of older generating plants. Further, Northern Pass will help reduce reliance on natural gas-fired sources, particularly during the winter months when the gas pipeline system into New England is constrained.
Enabling Enhanced Economic and Community Betterment
In an effort to provide additional benefits, Northern Pass has finalized an agreement with leading Massachusetts low-income advocates, including Action for Boston Community Development, Action, Inc., and the National Consumer Law Center, that commits $10 million in funding to support low-income energy programs and services for Massachusetts low-income customers over 20 years.
As the host state for the Northern Pass project, New Hampshire will receive new property tax revenues and additional benefits to promote community betterment and economic development. The project enjoys strong support from many of New Hampshire’s business leaders, labor organizations and elected officials.
In summary, Northern Pass will help stabilize regional energy prices, provide a firm supply of clean energy, lower greenhouse gas emission, and provide hundreds of new jobs and additional economic benefits for Massachusetts residents. With approval of state and federal permits expected by the end of 2017, all major construction and supplier contracts fully executed, the Northern Pass proposal is the most advanced and comprehensive energy solution for Massachusetts.
Eversource (NYSE: ES) transmits and delivers electricity and natural gas to more than 3.6 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 customerservice. For more information, please visit our website (www.eversource.com) and follow us on Twitter (@EversourceCorp) and Facebook (facebook.com/EversourceEnergy).
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.
Below is the press release regarding the power purchase agreement between Eversource and Hydro-Québec.
MANCHESTER, N.H. (July 25, 2017) – Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH) d/b/a Eversource Energy and Hydro Renewable Energy Inc. (HRE), an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, have announced their intent to work to replace their existing Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with an alternative agreement to provide New Hampshire customers with environmental and potential future economic benefits as part of the Northern Pass Transmission (NPT) project.
“We recognize the importance of delivering value to New Hampshire and are pleased to be cooperating with our partner on a new approach that will result in unique and significant benefits for the Granite State,” said Bill Quinlan, president of Eversource operations in New Hampshire. “PSNH remains firmly committed to pursuing opportunities to lower energy costs for our customers above and beyond the $62 million in annual energy cost savings for New Hampshire consumers.”
“Hydro-Québec is committed to working with Eversource to provide the value of Quebec hydropower environmental attributes to the state of New Hampshire, in addition to the benefits associated with the operation of the Northern Pass Project,” said Steve Demers, Vice-President – Business Development of Hydro-Québec.
In March, the NH Public Utilities Commission (PUC) dismissed the original PPA on the grounds that the agreement was not consistent with the state’s electric restructuring law. A subsequent attempt by New Hampshire lawmakers to address issues raised by the PUC has yet to advance. Importantly, the commitment associated with today’s announcement will be consistent with the PUC’s decision and comes at no cost to New Hampshire customers.
Through the commitment announced today, the parties will work toward an agreement to provide to PSNH the environmental attributes associated with an annual volume of clean energy delivered into the New England region. PSNH would be able to utilize those attributes to satisfy future clean energy requirements and direct any benefits to New Hampshire customers.
There is a clear need to lower energy costs in New England, as well as a growing demand for additional sources of clean energy as the region faces the retirement of many older generating units and the need to achieve the region’s environmental objectives. Together with the competitively-priced and abundant clean energy Northern Pass will provide, the commitment by PSNH and HRE announced today represents significant economic and environmental benefits for New Hampshire.
Eversource (NYSE: ES) is New Hampshire’s largest electric utility, serving more than 500,000 homes and businesses in 211 cities and towns and is proud to be recognized as the top contributor to United Way in 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 (www.eversource.com) and follow us on Twitter (@eversourceNH) and Facebook (facebook.com/EversourceNH).