Massachusetts will replace Northern Pass if project doesn't nab NH permit
- Massachusetts will select Central Maine Power's New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission line to replace the Northern Pass project if it doesn't secure a permit by New Hampshire by March 27, according to a press release from parent company Avangrid.
- Northern Pass was selected to help Massachusetts meet its clean energy goals, but the project was rejected by New Hampshire regulators, potentially hurting its construction timeline, which played a key role in the project's selection.
- Central Maine 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.
Central Maine Power had indicated it would continue development of the NECEC project despite not winning Massachusetts' request for proposals, but apparently the 145-mile project is still in the running.
NECEC would add 1,200 MW of transmission capacity to supply New England with clean energy. Central Maine 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.
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee's decision to reject Northern Pass, however, just days after Massachusetts selected the project, has thrown the process into disarray. The process already came under scrutiny since utilities were directly involved in the selection process. But under the Global Warming Solutions Act, Massachusetts utilities are allowed to participate in the selection process, with National Grid, Eversource Energy and Unitil Corp. among those who submitted proposals and reviewed projects.
Earlier this month, Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources head Judith Judson directed utilities to examine whether or not the Northern Pass transmission project could meet its operational deadline of 2020 following its rejection by New Hampshire regulators.
Eversource, one of the project developers, vowed to appeal New Hampshire's decision, but the potentially lengthy process could hurt its projected timeline, a key factor in the decision to pick Northern Pass.
A previous version of this post incorrectly said the 9,450,000 MWh was part of the Global Warming Solutions Act passed in 2008.
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