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Northern Pass opponents seek delay of SEC hearings

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader

March 30. 2017 6:53PM


Several towns opposed to the proposed Northern Pass power transmission project want a roughly six-month delay on a state committee’s work considering the project’s merits, so the region’s power needs become clearer first.

Laconia attorney Steven Whitley, whose clients include New Hampton, Littleton, Deerfield and Pembroke, said in a filing with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee that a delay would provide time for Northern Pass and others to respond to a request for proposals to supply renewable energy to Massachusetts.

Northern Pass and National Grid, which unveiled its own transmission project this week, plan to respond to the Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP.

The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee plans to issue a written ruling by late September on whether to approve a required permit for Northern Pass.

The committee’s first hearing in what some compared to a trial is slated for April 13 in Concord.

Whitley, who couldn’t be reached Thursday, also cites conflicting accounts of how much Hydro-Quebec, a partner in the Northern Pass project, wants to contribute financially.

To clarify the situation, the provincially owned Hydro-Quebec issued a statement earlier this month saying it had no intentions of abandoning Northern Pass, and it will ensure the project is profitable for all Quebec residents.

Both HQ and Eversource said they were carefully eyeing the Massachusetts Clean Energy solicitations for secure, long-term commitments. Murray said Eversource and HQ expect to submit a very competitive bid.

Northern Pass spokesman Martin Murray said Northern Pass intends to object to delaying the committee hearing process.

On Thursday, Murray said: “We have provided assurances and a guarantee to New Hampshire that customers here will not pay the costs of construction related to this project.”

Northern Pass critic Jack Savage from the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests said “it’s become increasingly evident that the Massachusetts RFP is really a component of Northern Pass’s economic model” and everyone should understand the implications prior to the series of SEC hearing dates, which are slated to stretch into July.

Murray said Northern Pass’s success “is not predicated on any one project.”

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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