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 New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC) announced on Friday, October 14 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 and economic benefits, as well as energy cost savings to New Hampshire,” said Bill Quinlan of Eversource. “We look forward to continuing to move through the state and federal siting processes with the goal of making the benefits of Northern Pass a reality for the state’s energy consumers.”
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 permit from the regional grid operator, ISO New England, which officially determined that the clean energy project can safely and reliably interconnect with the regional electric grid.
You can view the NHPUC order on Public Utility Status here.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has denied the NH PUC’s request for a rehearing on the Transmission Service Agreement (TSA) between Northern Pass and Hydro Quebec.
The TSA spells out how costs associated with the project are dealt with and was approved by FERC back in February of this year.