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Massachusetts keeping its energy options open

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 16. 2018 10:16PM

Massachusetts officials and utilities will continue negotiations with Northern Pass but also will start discussions with another project to secure clean energy for Bay State customers.

This follows after the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee on Feb. 1 unanimously denied an application for Northern Pass to build a 192-mile transmission line that would carry hydroelectric power from Canada into New England.

“The electric distribution companies, in consultation with the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and the independent evaluator, notified NPT Hydro that they will continue conditional contract negotiations with the project, with the option of ceasing discussions with NPT Hydro and terminating its conditional selection by March 27, 2018,” according to the Department of Energy Resources.

“Additionally, the electric distribution companies offered New England Clean Energy Connect 100% Hydro project the ability to enter into concurrent conditional contract negotiations during the same timeframe,” the DOER said.

Massachusetts had set a March 27 deadline to negotiate and execute long-term contracts for Northern Pass to transmit hydro power from Quebec to New England — giving the project guaranteed customers for its power at a negotiated price over 20 years.

The Massachusetts decision “strikes a sensible balance by allowing negotiations with Northern Pass to continue, while establishing a backup protocol that can be initiated if necessary,” said Northern Pass spokesman Martin Murray.

Northern Pass officials plan to file paperwork asking the SEC to reconsider its decision. If unsuccessful, attorneys for the $1.6 billion project could file an appeal with the state Supreme Court, which could take a year or more to resolve.

At stake with Northern Pass are thousands of construction jobs and tens of millions of dollars in new yearly property taxes collectively to more than 30 communities, from Pittsburg to Deerfield, along the route.

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