Northern Pass dealt fresh setback as siting board delays rehearing decision
- The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) will not make a decision on whether to restart its review of the Northern Pass transmission line until sometime in May, the Union Leader reports, diminishing the project's chances of approval.
- In January Massachusetts chose Eversource Energy's 192-mile transmission project to help the state meet renewables goals, but the New Hampshire SEC voted unanimously to reject the project.
- Massachusetts has indicated it will drop the project and move on to another proposal if Northern Pass developers cannot secure the necessary permits by March 27.
Eversource Energy last month asked the New Hampshire siting board to set aside its denial and restart their review of Northern Pass. But local reports now indicate the SEC deferred a rehearing decision until it has issued a written ruling later this month.
Given the process and filing deadlines, the Union Leader reports a decision on whether to restart consideration is unlikely before May.
The SEC did suspend its oral rejection of the project, however, giving developers some hope.
Massachusetts is seeking 9,450,000 MWh of renewable energy annually, which Northern Pass would help meet by moving power from Hydro-Quebec dams in Canada to a substation in Deerfield, N.H.
If Eversource is unable to secure the needed permits in time, Massachusetts is likely to award that contract to Central Maine Power's New England Clean Energy Connect transmission line instead.
Eversource has been trying to sweeten the deal for New Hampshire, agreeing to a range of conditions saying it would introduce $25 million fund to address property value impacts, economic development in host communities and tourism. Another $20 million would go towards efficiency programs, and the SEC would consider where another $100 million would be directed.
Eversource would also agree to horizontal directional drilling in the downtown areas of both Plymouth and Franconia to reduce construction impacts and would designate up to $300 million in energy cost benefits for business and low-income customers from the sale of clean energy attributes.
In total, developers say the Northern Pass project could provide $3 billion in economic and environmental benefits to New Hampshire.
- New Hampshire Union Leader Lawyer: Site Evaluation Committee won't decide whether to reconsider Northern Pass rejection until May
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