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.
The final hearings before the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) were completed today, concluding the testimony and cross-examination of more than 120 witnesses over an eight-month period. Briefs from the parties including their final arguments, will be filed with the SEC in mid-January. Counsel for the Public and intervenor briefs are due January 12, 2018, and Northern Pass’ brief is due January 19, 2018.
In November, the SEC issued a notice of deliberations, signaling the final stage of the state permitting process for Northern Pass. Twelve days of public deliberations will begin January 30th, leading to an oral decision by February 23rd, 2018, and a final written decision by March 31, 2018. With the state, federal and Canadian permitting processes nearing completion, Northern Pass is on track to begin construction by spring 2018 and in-service by the end of 2020.
Northern Pass achieved a number of milestones this year, positioning itself as the most advanced clean energy project in New England. From the issuance of the Presidential Permit to securing major contractors, Northern Pass enters 2018 expecting the conclusion of the state and federal permitting process and construction to begin in the spring.
The NH Site Evaluation Committee today voted to extend the deadline for their final written decision on Northern Pass by six months, to March 31, 2018.
Northern Pass is disappointed in today’s decision considering this review process was already extended by nine months, from what was originally a 12-month process under recently enacted NH law.
We’re encouraged by the SEC’s willingness to pursue options for concluding the review in advance of the new deadline.
We remain confident in our ability to achieve a 2020 in-service date. Further, we are convinced that we have submitted the most mature project into the Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP and we continue to believe that we will be in a position to start construction in the second quarter of 2018.
Process continues with more public hearings
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) has announced it will hold a public hearing on May 19 at 6 p.m. at the Mountain View Grand Resort, at 101 Mountain View Road in Whitefield to receive public comments on the additional information submitted by Northern Pass to comply with newly adopted SEC rules.
This public hearing is in addition to the five public hearings the SEC held in March. The SEC order, issued on May 4, specifies that the public hearing, including public comments, will be limited to issues presented by the additional information filed by Northern Pass.
The SEC will also hold a hearing on pending motions earlier that day at 11 a.m. at the Mountain View Grand Resort. The hearing will address pending motions on the SEC’s timeframe for reviewing the project and a Northern Pass request for partial waivers under the new SEC rules.
The SEC has held a number of hearings in recent months to address issues related to the adjudicative process – a phase of the SEC’s review which is outlined in state law. A prehearing conference was held on March 22 to address issues relating to interveners, the SEC’s timeframe for reviewing the project, whether to hold additional public hearings, and other procedural issues. On April 12, the SEC held a hearing in Lincoln to discuss pending motions, including all requests to review the SEC’s Order on Petitions to Intervene. On April 22, the SEC issued a temporary procedural schedule beginning the discovery phase of the process.
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) has issued a notice and order of site inspection to review portions of the Northern Pass route. This site inspection will take place on March 7 and 8 and includes a bus tour along the route, stopping at key points identified in the order.
On March 7, the tour will leave from Colebrook Elementary School to view locations along the route and on March 8, the tour will leave from the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa to view additional locations. You can learn more about the tour, which is open to the public, by reading the SEC order now posted on our website.
This tour and the public hearings being held this month are part of the state permitting process for Northern Pass. The SEC hosted a public hearing on Northern Pass in Meredith on Tuesday, March 1 and the SEC has four more meetings scheduled to gather public input and comment this month. Two of these meetings will be co-hosted with the U.S. Department of Energy, which is also reviewing Northern Pass as part of the project’s federal permitting process.
For more information about the public hearings and how to participate in the process, go to our Project Journal.
(Co-hosted with DOE)
Colebrook Elementary School
27 Dumont Street
(Co-hosted with DOE)
Grappone Conference Center
70 Constitution Avenue
Plymouth State University
Welcome Center at the Ice Arena
129 NH Rt – 175A
Deerfield Fair Pavilion
49 Stage Road
It was a big year for Northern Pass. In 2015, we announced the Forward NH Plan and a unveiled a redesigned route that includes underground along roads in and around the White Mountain National Forest and Franconia Notch region. The plan has nearly $4 billion in benefits for New Hampshire and the region, including reduced energy costs, increased tax revenues for New Hampshire communities, a $2.1 billion boost to the state economy and the creation of 2,400 jobs.
Northern Pass also filed its application with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), the state’s siting authority for significant energy projects. We held five Public Information Sessions where residents learned more about the project and submitted comments to the SEC, and we met with municipalities and residents along the route throughout the fall, answering their questions and gathering their feedback.
As the year comes to a close and we prepare for 2016, we wanted to look at the milestones Northern Pass has already reached, and also provide you with information about the next steps the project will take.
January 29: The Coös County Jobs Creation Association announces its members made up of local residents and business owners.
March 26: Northern Pass partners with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to create the $3 million Partners for New Hampshire’s Fish and Wildlife. The program aims to protect and restore healthy forests and rivers throughout the state through grants to local organizations doing work to sustain local habitats.
July 21: The Department of Energy releases its draft Environmental Impact Statement, examining the potential impact the project could have on the environment and economy. It shows overall potential visual impact of the project will be low to very low, that Northern Pass will generate $564 million in economic output during construction, and will reduce regional carbon emissions by 8 percent.
August 18: Northern Pass announces the Forward NH Plan, which includes 52 additional miles of underground line, for a total of 60 miles underground, and nearly $4 billion in benefits.
August 31: Hydro-Québec and Eversource Energy reaffirm their commitment to bring clean, competitively-priced electricity to New Hampshire and the region.
September 2-10: Northern Pass held a series of pre-application Public Information Sessions in all five counties where the project will be located as part of our SEC filing process.
October 19: Northern Pass files its application with the SEC.
November 12: The U.S. Department of Energy releases a supplement to the draft Environmental Impact Statement, which focused on the portions of the route that include additional underground lines.
December 7: The SEC votes unanimously that the Northern Pass application is complete.
December 18: The SEC issues a written order officially deeming the Northern Pass application complete and moving the project forward in the state permitting process.
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) process will continue with five post-application Public Information Sessions in January.
The Department of Energy will also host a series of public hearings where residents can comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement on Northern Pass. The times and locations will be announced soon.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (October 19, 2015) – The challenge of solving New England’s energy crisis received a significant boost today as Eversource’s Northern Pass project filed its application for siting approval with New Hampshire state regulators. The much-needed energy solution includes a firm commitment from Hydro-Québec, Canada’s largest energy producer, to provide New Hampshire and New England with a significant amount of reliable, competitively priced, clean hydropower for decades to come, when the energy is most needed, uniquely differentiating Northern Pass from other proposals. The project’s reliable supply from a proven partner comes at a time when the region faces historic energy price and supply challenges. Northern Pass will deliver up to 1,090 megawatts of energy, enough to power more than one million homes. It will lower New England’s annual energy costs by more than $850 million, greatly assist in meeting the region’s clean air goals, and add needed diversity to its energy mix.
“Today’s filing marks another important milestone in our effort to deliver a clean energy solution that our customers desperately need in order to diversify our power supply and stabilize energy prices,” said Bill Quinlan, President of Eversource Operations in New Hampshire. “This is especially important as the region’s existing generation fleet undergoes rapid and significant changes, including the closing of existing power plants that New Hampshire and New England have relied on for decades. Northern Pass, and its clean, affordable power supply of the future, will help to answer the need to replace those units.”
The filing with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) is being made as New Hampshire and the region brace for another winter of increased energy prices, the result of constrained natural gas pipelines and inadequate energy supplies to replace the output from several large fossil-fired and nuclear power plants that have or will soon retire. These pressures continue to keep electricity prices in New Hampshire and New England substantially higher than the U.S. average. The closing of existing nuclear power plants, which emit very little carbon, also challenges the region’s clean air goals. The power provided by Northern Pass will help in the effort, by reducing carbon emissions in the area by up to 3.3 million metric tons a year, the equivalent of taking more than 690,000 cars off the road.
The application includes a new project cost estimate of $1.6 billion, up from $1.4 billion, reflecting updated pricing to support project changes announced in August as part of the Forward NH Plan, when the project committed to bury an additional 52 miles of the line. The burial eliminates potential view impacts in and around the White Mountain National Forest, the Appalachian Trail, the Rocks Estate, Franconia Notch and surrounding areas. Since the announcement of the Forward NH Plan, Northern Pass has selected cable and converter manufacturers whose technology is capable of delivering up to 1,090 megawatts of clean, renewable hydro power to New Hampshire. A $200 million Forward NH Fund will be part of the project’s annual operating expense and is not part of the new project cost estimate.
In addition, other engineering and design changes have been made to further address view concerns, including lowering structure heights, modifying structure designs, and working with property owners to address individual issues. In response to feedback received at five recent public information sessions, Northern Pass has modified more than 60 additional structures to address potential view impacts along scenic byways, as well as river and highway crossings.
The SEC reviews all applications for siting and construction of large-scale energy facilities, including transmission projects like the Northern Pass. After an extensive adjudicative proceeding, the SEC decides whether to issue a Certificate of Site and Facility. The SEC process is expected to last approximately 14 months and will include numerous opportunities for public input. In addition to the public information sessions already held, future information sessions will take place as part of the SEC review process. Northern Pass is expected to be online in 2019.
“Our Forward NH Plan, including the project we have now filed with the SEC, represents a balanced approach that is based on extensive feedback from across New Hampshire to deliver substantial economic and environmental benefits to our state and the region,” said Quinlan. “As we move forward in the state siting process, and beyond into construction, we will continue our outreach efforts with landowners, communities, and others to look for ways to address local issues. Throughout this project, on-going dialogue and listening remain top priorities.”
The SEC application being filed today is consistent with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) issued last July. Northern Pass is moving forward with its application to the SEC as it awaits a supplement to the DEIS. The project will now pursue state approvals in parallel with completion of the federal review process.
In addition to revising the project route to include additional underground construction and making other engineering and design changes, the project in August announced other elements of its Forward NH Plan.
The plan includes the establishment of a $200 million Forward NH Fund, dedicated to important initiatives in tourism, economic development, community investment and clean energy innovation. The plan also reaffirmed the project’s commitment to hire local New Hampshire workers and contractors first, and its engagement in a first-of-its-kind training program to provide New Hampshire electrical worker apprentices with hands-on experience.
With the addition of the project’s new clean energy supply to the region’s energy market, New Hampshire customers will realize $800 million in retail cost savings over the first 10 years of operation through lower wholesale power costs. Additional savings for Eversource customers in New Hampshire will be realized through a firm power purchase agreement that is being finalized with Hydro-Québec. Energy cost savings and carbon emission reductions have been calculated by London Economics and are contained in a new analysis included in the project’s application to the SEC.
For more information about the new Northern Pass route and our Forward NH Plan, visit www.northernpass.us/forward-nh-press-kit.htm.
The Northern Pass Transmission project will be capable of delivering up to 1,090 megawatts of clean, renewable hydropower from the vast reserves of Hydro-Québec into the New England grid and offer unique economic and clean energy benefits to the state of New Hampshire. In addition to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee, the project is being considered by the U.S. Department of Energy and has a target in-service date of spring, 2019. For more information, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Eversource (NYSE: ES) is New Hampshire’s largest electric utility, serving more than 500,000 homes and businesses in 211 cities and towns. Eversource harnesses the commitment of its approximately 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 and follow us on Twitter (@eversourceNH) and Facebook (facebook.com/EversourceNH).