Northern Pass stands alone as the only project in New England that requires no customer subsidy and will bring clean, low-cost hydro power along with direct and substantial economic benefits to New Hampshire. Northern Pass has a proposed route and a firm agreement with an energy supplier (Hydro Québec) to pay the project costs.
Everyone agrees that New England is in serious need of new sources of base load energy to meet future energy demands. The power grid operator, ISO New England, projects that 8,000 megawatts of generating capacity are at risk of retiring by 2020, and, in just the last month, we’ve seen actual announcements that more than 2,000 megawatts of energy will soon be gone. As a region, the ISO projects we need to construct more than 5,000 megawatts of new generation assets in the coming years to keep the grid running. Northern Pass is a large part of the solution, and yet the region must continue to look for additional new energy sources.
TDI New England, a private transmission line developer, this week announced a proposal to construct a 1,000 megawatt line to connect a yet-to-be determined energy source from Québec to New England. The proposal calls for a line placed underwater for 100 miles through Lake Champlain and then underground for 50 miles through Vermont along an undetermined route.
Instead of putting such a proposal in the perspective of the region’s larger energy challenges, some groups are using the announcement as an opportunity to attack Northern Pass and to mislead the public by making “apples to oranges” comparisons. It is an unfortunate reality that these groups, including the Conservation Law Foundation and the Forest Society, are willing to put their own special interests and fundraising campaigns before the needs of the region.
This new proposal is an interesting concept but it is disingenuous to compare it to Northern Pass. It joins other merchant project trial balloons that may never get off the ground. Northern Pass is farther along compared to this and other conceptual proposals, and is positioned very well to earn required permits and move forward. Since announcing the project three years ago and unveiling our improved route in June of this year, we’ve made significant headway toward clearing regulatory and technical hurdles, and anticipate beginning operations in 2017. There are several other fundamental differences between Northern Pass and this new TDI proposal, including:
We take it as a positive sign that others are proposing solutions to meet the region’s significant energy challenges. All proposals need to be considered, and it is clear that no single “silver bullet” project will address all the region’s challenges at once. Meanwhile, the facts are clear that Northern Pass is a legitimate project with a firm partner, proven technology, a viable route, and will bring direct and substantial economic, energy, and environmental benefits to New Hampshire and New England.
It’s unfortunate but not surprising that the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) continues to mislead the public on the Northern Pass project. The project has previously responded to CLF’s delaying tactics and its flawed study questioning the environmental benefits of hydro power.
Continuing on its mission to obstruct, delay, and mislead on Northern Pass, CLF has now attacked the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the process used to select its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) contractor. CLF complained last week that the Northern Pass project influenced the selection of the DOE contractor.
In reality, CLF’s claim is a baseless attempt to distort the truth and mislead the public. In a letter filed today with DOE, Northern Pass sets the record straight on the process used to select the contractor, and exposes CLF’s flawed claims. The letter makes clear the following:
In support of these points, the Northern Pass letter to DOE relies on the same documents (exhibits) cited by CLF in its complaint. Upon review, it is clear that CLF selectively quoted from a skewed choice of documents in an attempt to support its goal of discrediting the DOE process.
A review of the facts clearly shows that there is absolutely no merit to CLF’s “complaint.” We are pleased to see that DOE has responded to CLF’s outrageous claims and has set the record straight.
The Northern Pass project remains committed to delivering significant energy, environmental, and economic benefits to the New Hampshire and the region and we will continue to work with regulators, policymakers, communities, and other responsible stakeholders as the project moves forward.
Hydro Quebec recently responded to a study commissioned by the Conservation Law Foundation challenging the amount of carbon (CO2) emissions that may be reduced as a result of The Northern Pass offsetting energy produced by the burning of fossil fuels.
From the HQ response:
The facts on hydropower emissions, using a life-cycle analysis approach over a period of 100 years, are actually quite simple. Québec hydropower emissions are:
•similar to those from wind power
•only a quarter of those from photovoltaic solar facilities
•40 times less than those from a gas-fired power plant
•about 100 times less than those from a coal-fired plant.
The Plan’s recommended actions include the importation of hydro power from Quebec; a project like The Northern Pass.
“…The Task Force recommends that New Hampshire strive to
achieve a long-term reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of
80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050…”
Is it any wonder that the New Hampshire Climate Change Policy Task Force recommended 67 separate actions as a means toward achieving its aggressive goal to significantly reduce emissions of carbon? The fact is that there is no one single solution to the challenge.
The Plan’s recommendations run the gamut – from honing energy efficiency programs, to promoting stricter fuel economy standards.
One action of the 67 is particularly relevant to The Northern Pass project:
Enable Importation of Canadian Hydro and Wind Generation
“…To the extent that it reduces or does not raise electricity rates to the consumer, high voltage transmission lines should be built to import clean power generated from Canadian hydro and wind sources as a complementary policy to developing non-CO2-emitting generation in New Hampshire. Canada is developing vast new hydro and wind generation resources, which are greater than their local needs. This creates an opportunity for New Hampshire and the entire Northeast to obtain clean power…”
The fact is, there is little debate in New Hampshire or elsewhere on whether or not hydropower from Canada will result in reduced carbon emissions. It will. The challenge is over how to import such energy; how to transmit that low carbon energy in a manner that makes sense from both an economic and engineering perspective – and, that also is respectful of New Hampshire’s environment and natural landscape.
That is why we found it surprising that the Conservation Law Foundation would expend resources to purchase a study challenging the total carbon reduction that may be achieved when The Northern Pass is complete.
It is ironic, too, in that the developers of the CLF study, Synapse Energy, is the same firm that touted a similar hydropower project as a replacement for the energy produced by a nuclear power plant – which emits zero carbon:
“…(T)he Champlain Hudson Power Express … would connect Quebec to New York City. It will bring a significant amount of renewable generation directly to New York City…”
Indian Point Energy Center Nuclear Plant Retirement Analysis
Synapse Energy Economics, Inc, Oct. 2011
We want to assure the CLF that we share its interest and commitment to protecting and improving New England’s environment. In keeping with the NH Climate Action Plan, we believe that The Northern Pass can be an effective part of a comprehensive overall strategy to reduce emissions of carbon.
Today we filed with the U.S. Department of Energy our response to an earlier call by the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation to halt the current project permitting process.
The CLF has asked the DOE to instead produce a single, broad Environmental Impact Statement that considers a number of projects around the region – including actual, proposed or simply contemplated.
We believe that the CLF Motion is simply an attempt to delay the comprehensive review process that is now taking place, and we have asked the DOE to deny the request.
“…The CLF Motion is without legal support. It appears instead to be nothing more than an attempt to delay consideration of the Northern Pass application for a Presidential Permit, a permit that would enable the delivery of clean, low carbon power to New Hampshire and to New England as a whole and that would likely hasten the shutdown of aging, more expensive sources of fossil-fuel generated power. The Motion also seems designed to postpone the day when this job-creating, economic development-enhancing project can begin delivering on the promise it represents for New Hampshire…”
Our view is that the existing approval process for The Northern Pass requires substantial review, at both the federal and state level, and is set up to fully consider the public interest. The attempt by CLF to change that in midstream threatens to delay, by years, the job creation, tax relief, and emission reductions that The Northern Pass offers.