- Massachusetts is pivoting to negotiations with Central Maine Power (CMP) to develop the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) project, opting to abandon its first choice of hydroelectric transmission projects in the face of siting difficulties.
- Eversource Energy's Northern Pass line was selected in January to help Massachusetts meet its clean energy goals by delivering hydropower from Quebec, but the project was rejected by New Hampshire regulators.
- According to The (Mass.) Republican, however, Eversource Energy is not giving up on the project and company officials say they will "pursue all options for making it a reality."
Massachusetts officials on Wednesday announced they will move on from their first choice to supply the state with additional hydroelectric power, after Eversource Energy was unable to make permitting progress in New Hampshire. The company had pleaded with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee to immediately reopen consideration, but regulators in that state would not be rushed.
The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) gave Eversource until March 27 to secure a permit, and now the state is moving to finalize agreements with competing project NECEC. The decision was made in part by the state's electric distribution companies, including Eversource, which were involved in the initial selection.
In a statement, the group of utilities said they "are in the process of concluding contract negotiations with the New England Clean Energy Connect ... and intend to execute agreements with NECEC Hydro for submittal to the Department of Public Utilities, assuming negotiations are concluded successfully."
DOER Communications Director Peter Lorenz said the decision continues the administration's commitment "to execute clean energy procurements ... while progressing towards greenhouse gas reduction requirements."
CMP proposed the $950 million NECEC in a joint bid with Hydro-Québec to deliver renewable energy from Québec to the New England grid. Massachusetts is seeking 9,450,000 MWh of renewable energy annually to meet goals in comprehensive legislation passed two years ago.
NECEC would add 1,200 MW of transmission capacity to supply New England with clean energy. CMP submitted applications for all state and federal permits in mid-2017 and said it expects to receive state approvals later this year and final federal permits in early 2019.
In a statement, Eversrouce noted that it is the only project that has obtained federal permits in the United Sates and Canada. "Despite recent delays, we continue to believe that Northern Pass is the best project for the region and New Hampshire, and we intend to pursue all options for making it a reality," the company said.