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.
Across New Hampshire, we have spoken to many people who like the substantial benefits Northern Pass offers and who support our efforts to bring clean, affordable hydropower into the region. We appreciate this support and wanted to thank those who have added their voice to the growing consensus that we need to invest in our energy infrastructure and move closer toward a cleaner, more affordable energy future. Here are just a few of the supportive words we’ve heard from people around the state:
“The electrical power plants are shutting down, getting old, and our electric bills are skyrocketing. We need something new. We need to get the power. … My neighbors are all like, ‘My energy bill is so high. I’m paying so much for electric.’ I’m like, ‘Well then, we need to do Northern Pass. Otherwise, they’re just going to keep going up.’” – Cheryl Ulm of Laconia
“The power coming through Northern Pass is clean power, generated from water turbines in Canada. This is exactly the kind of clean, sustainable energy strategy we’ve identified as a priority for New Hampshire.” – State Senator Lou D’Allesandro
“The ‘Forward NH’ Plan proposes to balance the energy deficit in New England by delivering clean, renewable, hydroelectric power to New Hampshire and the region while addressing environmental impact concerns. Equally important, the project promises to provide unmistakably clear benefits to New Hampshire by bringing low-cost electricity directly to the state’s residents and businesses, creating hundreds of jobs, and providing millions in tax revenue to local communities.” – Paul Markwardt, VP and Deputy GM of Nashua-based BAE Systems
“Berlin represents a third of the county’s residents and even though the line will not be going through Berlin, don’t forget a lot of those laborers and a lot of those electricians and apprentice candidates will come from the Berlin/Gorham area. The recreational opportunities – many of those folks will come from the Berlin/Gorham area. I don’t downplay the fact that in my community, it’s going to have a pretty significant positive effect. It’s really going to make the glass a lot more than half full.” – Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier
We’ve also received support from a number of the state’s newspapers, particularly for our efforts in addressing concerns about potential view impact and providing substantial benefits unique to New Hampshire. Here is what these newspapers have been saying:
“Northern Pass, Seacoast Reliability Project and the divestiture of power plants are all now progressing because Eversource has listened to stakeholders, respected their testimony and changed the projects to address their concerns. Getting these projects built in a manner that provides wide economic benefits while protecting property values and scenic beauty is vital for New Hampshire and New England, because our energy costs, already high, will increase again this winter and in successive winters until the region increases its electrical capacity.” – Foster’s Daily Democrat and Portsmouth Herald
“Environmentalists who say they favor “green power” such as hydro should warm to a plan that eliminates above-ground lines in the national forest. North Country residents and small businesses should embrace a plan with substantial immediate and long-term benefits. Businesses large and small throughout New Hampshire are already hailing a plan that provides some relief from high electricity costs. Northern Pass and Eversource have made the compromise they needed to make. It is time for on-the-fence politicians and understandably skeptical North Country partisans to do likewise.” – New Hampshire Union Leader
“To ensure reliability and guarantee that the region’s remaining coal plants run as little as possible, we support the Northern Pass project, which does less to exacerbate climate change than fossil fuel options.” – Concord Monitor