New England power trade group questions decision on Northern Pass grid hook-up
The trade association that represents New England power plants thinks so, and is exploring its options to see if a Dec. 31 decision by ISO-New England can be modified or reversed.
An ISO official said the Northern Pass project, designed to bring 1,200 megawatts of hydroelectric power from Quebec into the New England grid via New Hampshire, is unlike most projects submitted for review, given its size. The amount of energy from Northern Pass would equal the output of the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant, one of the largest generators on the grid.
Seabrook Station owner Nextera Energy led the charge on the Reliability Committee to impose tougher terms on Northern Pass than those recommended by the ISO engineering staff.
Nextera offered an amendment to the staff recommendations that, among other things, would have required technical details about the equipment Northern Pass intends to use. That amendment failed with 48 percent of the committee in favor.
The Reliability Committee is comprised of six sectors, each with approximately 17 percent of the voting power — generation, transmission, alternative resources, suppliers, the publicly owned sector and end users.
“One reason the voting is so complicated is to ensure that no single sector can block something from happening,” Dolan said. “The two-thirds majority requires much broader buy-in from the overall community.”
“What’s more striking, beyond the fact that this has never been done before,” he said, “is the fact that it is now being done for a project that is not even needed for reliability. ”
The opposition to the ISO staff recommendation was not intended to block Northern Pass from hooking into the grid, if it does get built, according to Jim Monahan, vice president of the Dupont Group in Concord, which represents NEPGA.
“No one raised a reliability issue that was not addressed by the conditions imposed by the ISO in the determination we issued Dec. 31,” she said. “Among those conditions is a requirement for the project developer to conduct further reliability studies when it has selected the specific equipment it will use, and a requirement to bear the cost to address any adverse reliability impacts that those future studies may identify.”
“NEPGA represents the merchant natural gas power plants that will have to compete against the clean, low-cost energy delivered by Northern Pass. Their comments on the project must be viewed through that prism,” he said. “We appreciate the comprehensive and detailed analysis ISO undertook in reviewing our proposal and their approval demonstrates that Northern Pass can reliably interconnect with the region’s energy grid.”