- New Hampshire utility regulators extended the deadline for action on Eversource Energy's proposed $1.6 billion, 192-mile North Pass transmission project to the end of September 2017, MassLive reports. The project aims to ship 1,090 MW of hydroelectric power owned by Hydro-Quebec from the Canadian border to the New England grid.
- The new deadline will delay the project by nine months, dampening the utility's hopes to begin construction by January 2017. Eversource had hoped to obtain the necessary federal and state permits by the end of this year, and financial analysts told the news outlet the delay a "significant setback."
- The transmission line is facing opposition from a generator trade group and the environmental community. The New England Power Generators Association said the proposed line could interfere with wholesale electrical markets and fashion a so-called "carve-out" for Eversource and its partner, Hydro-Quebec. And some environmental groups, including the Appalachian Mountain Club, said the line would damage the scenery and disturb wildlife habitat and water resources, since the line cuts through part of the White Mountain National Forest.
Transmission lines are no stranger to opposition, and now New Hampshire regulators are delaying the Northern Pass in a bid to gain more time to fully evaluate the project. This delay came as the Society for the Preservation of New Hampshire Forests, the state's Fish and Game Department and a handful of other parties petitioned for more time to evaluate environmental costs.
After the ruling last week, Eversource told MassLive it was evaluating "our options for seeking reconsideration." The utility said the transmission line would provide renewable and clean energy, cut electrical rates and boost the state's economy through a $200 million fund, while estimating some $3.8 billion in economic stimulous through its Forward NH plan. The Forward NH plan offers economic, infrastructure and tax benefits for the state, including the aforementioned $200 million fund aimed to support clean energy innovation and economic investment.
The delay could cause a ripple effect in neighboring state Massachusetts. Last week, the Massachusetts House released an energy bill directing state's utilities to solicit long-term contracts for 1,200 MW of offshore wind and hydroelectric power in a bid to meet the state's clean energy goals, the news outlet reported.
The bill noted the hydropower requirement hinged on a completion of a major transmission project, and named the Northern Pass as a possibility.