- The U.S. Department of Energy yesterday approved a Presidential permit allowing Eversource Energy to construct the 192-mile Northern Pass Transmission Line project, designed to move up to 1,090 MW of carbon-free power from Quebec into New England.
- Project developers say the U.S. Forest Service is expected to soon issue a separate final Record of Decision in response for a special use permit to allow burial of the transmission line through the White Mountain National Forest. A draft of the permit was approved in September.
- The project is expected to result in up to 3.2 million metric tons of avoided CO2 emissions per year in New England, with estimated wholesale electricity market benefits in excess of $650 million annually. The project will create 2,600 jobs in New Hampshire during construction.
Northern Pass must still convince New Hampshire regulators to approve the project, a decision which was delayed in September. But the Presidential permit is a major step forward for the clean energy transmission line, owned by Eversource Energy Transmission Ventures, a unit of Eversource Energy.
The $1.6 billion project has undergone intense scrutiny since it was first proposed in 2010. The most recent approval allows the project to cross the international border and connect into the United States grid. Construction of the line is expected to begin as early as April of 2018, but developers are still waiting on signoff from New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee.
Eversource New Hampshire President Bill Quinlan in a statement said the New Hampshire and Canadian permitting processes nearing completion, and the company has all major contractor, equipment and labor agreements in place. "This is good news for customers, and for the broad and diverse group of New Hampshire stakeholders," Quinlan said.
Developers say they are optimistic about the Forestry Service permit as well. A draft decision issued in September proposed to approve the project, concluding that the short-term construction impacts of the project are “more than outweighed by the benefits of bringing additional hydropower to the New England grid.”
Eversource is aiming for a 2020 in-service date. The project would move power from Canada to a substation in Deerfield, N.H. Developers say the line enjoys widespread local support. Tony Giunta, mayor-elect of Franklin, N.H., called the permit "great news for the city of Franklin and other municipalities that will directly benefit from the millions of new dollars being invested in our communities."
The Northern Pass project, according to DOE's environmental review, would help New England reduce carbon emissions by 9%, while creating 6,747 jobs in New Hampshire during construction, followed by about 900 permanent jobs.
The project is also one of five submitted to Massachusetts as part of its Clean Energy Request For Proposals to help utilities procure 9,450,000 MWh of renewable energy.