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Northern Pass to withdraw purchase power agreement

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader

July 25. 2017 11:53PM


MANCHESTER — Northern Pass officials said Tuesday they were withdrawing a proposed agreement that could have delivered New Hampshire Eversource customers hundreds of millions of dollars in additional savings over 20 years and will try to forge a new pact.

The original 20-year purchase power agreement was rejected by regulators in March as illegal, and legislators failed to pass a bill this year that would have allowed the PUC to consider it.

“It seems clear there are questions regarding the PPA that simply won’t be resolved in time” for the state Site Evaluation Committee, which is considering the Northern Pass project and is expected to rule by late September, said Northern Pass spokesman Martin Murray.

The project still is projected to deliver $62 million in annual energy savings to New Hampshire electric customers, both Eversource and non-Eversource, from Canadian hydropower that will be transmitted over Northern Pass lines into the New England power grid, he said.

The proposed $1.6 billion project needs several state and federal approvals before it can start operating in late 2019 or early 2020. Project officials hope to garner all necessary approvals by the end of this year. The route runs from Pittsburg to Deerfield and includes 60 miles of buried lines.

Hydro-Quebec, which is supplying the power, and Eversource are working on a new agreement.

The future agreement may include “environmental attributes” that may satisfy future clean energy requirements and direct financial benefits to New Hampshire customers.

According to the Eversource website, the original power agreement could have produced more than $300 million in additional value to customers over 20 years beyond the $100 million in energy savings. The sale of environmental attributes, perhaps in the form of renewable energy certificates to other New England states, would have benefited New Hampshire customers through a credit on their bills.

Murray said there was no timetable or cost savings yet developed for any potential new agreement.

Hydro-Quebec spokeswoman Lynn St-Laurent said by email that the alternative agreement “will mainly consist of an environmental attribute transfer” from Hydro-Quebec’s hydroelectric generating fleet.

Jack Savage, a project opponent with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, said “it sure does sound like smoke and mirrors.”

“The purchase power agreement was the smoke and the press release (about forging a new agreement) was the mirror of the proposed benefits of Northern Pass,” Savage said.

Meanwhile, the Site Evaluation Committee and parties involved in the committee’s hearings plan to visit several North Country areas Thursday and Friday, including Weeks State Park in Lancaster and the Gale River in Franconia.

On Tuesday, a group of project opponents involved in the committee’s hearings submitted a request for the committee to schedule additional days for site visits to places from Plymouth to Deerfield that could be affected by the project.

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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