March 1, 2018

Eversource wants N.H. to reconsider $1.6B Northern Pass project

Eversource Energy filed a motion Wednesday with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee asking the committee to reconsider its 192-mile Northern Pass electricity transmission line project that was unanimously rejected in early February.

At stake is Northern Pass's standing as the sole winning bidder in Massachusetts' Clean Energy RFP. Shortly after the New Hampshire's SEC rejected the $1.6 billion Northern Pass project, the Bay State selected Central Maine Power Co.'s competing $950 million New England Clean Energy Connect proposal as an alternative should Eversource fail to secure its New Hampshire permit by March 27.

Both projects proposed tapping Hydro-Quebec in Canada to deliver more than 1,000 megawatts of hydropower to Massachusetts, with Northern Pass apparently getting the initial nod because it promised a 2020 delivery date, roughly two years ahead of the delivery date in CMP's proposal.

In its news release on Wednesday, Eversource (NYSE: ES) noted that its motion for reconsideration outlines a comprehensive set of commitments that "could provide the basis for [the New Hampshire SEC] granting conditional approval."

"We appreciate the time and effort invested by the SEC members in reviewing Northern Pass," Eversource New Hampshire President Bill Quinlan said in the release. "Given the urgent need for cleaner, more affordable energy in the region, it is important that we present for consideration a solution that addresses the legitimate concerns raised during deliberations. We are hopeful that the SEC will focus on the comprehensive set of commitments that would establish a constructive path toward a resolution."

Eversource said its proposal to gain SEC's approval includes conditions received from several New Hampshire agencies that have approved the project contingent on those conditions being met. The company also outlined additional conditions it said the SEC could impose to address specific concerns expressed during its deliberations in early February, stating:

"In its original SEC application, Northern Pass contemplated the need to further economic development, tourism, community investment and clean energy innovation, and these are the four focus areas for its $200 million Forward NH Fund. Key commitments highlighted in today's motion include the following specific allocations from the fund:

  • $25 million to address property value impacts in affected communities
  • $25 million for promoting tourism and recreation in the affected areas
  • $25 million for economic development in host communities to address local impacts."

Other proposed commitments include:

  • Horizontal directional drilling in the downtown areas of both Plymouth and Franconia to reduce construction impacts to businesses and residents
  • Energy cost benefits of up to $300 million for business and low-income customers from the sale of clean energy attributes
  • Transmission upgrades of up to $50 million in the North Country to promote existing and new small-scale renewable generation.
  • Dedicated funding of $7.5 million for the North Country Job Creation Fund to support economic development and job growth.
  • Public interest program funding of $20 million to advance energy efficiency programs for customers
  • Right-of-way lease benefits that will lower customers' transmission costs and advance distributed generation, energy storage and electric vehicle initiatives, with an estimated value of $30 million.

"The unallocated balance ($100 million) of the $200 million in the Forward NH Fund is available to the SEC for further conditions," Eversource stated.

In its news release, Eversource said its Northern Pass project stands to provide $3 billion in economic and environmental benefits to New Hampshire, including $30 million in additional New Hampshire state and local tax revenue annually and $62 million annual energy cost savings for New Hampshire consumers, approximately $600 million annual reduction in the region's wholesale energy costs, 2,600 jobs for New Hampshire during peak construction and a reduction in regional carbon emissions by more than 3 million tons per year

Northern Pass has received rigorous environmental reviews and approvals from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Forest Service, as well as several New Hampshire state agencies, Eversource stated.


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