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Wait 'til next year: More Northern Pass delays

September 04. 2017 9:10PM

New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee is asking for another extension to finish its homework.

Already nine months overdue in evaluating the application to build Northern Pass, the SEC last week voted unanimously to give itself an additional five months. It now hopes to announce a decision by Feb. 28, 2018, with a final written decision by March 31.

Northern Pass says, if its application is approved, it could still start construction next year and be in service in 2020.

Regardless of the merits of Northern Pass, it is inexcusable that the SEC would take this long to do its job. The law gives the committee 12 months to consider applications. We’re already at 20 months, and counting.

The Business and Industry Association, which is neutral on Northern Pass, rebuked the SEC for this latest delay.

New Hampshire’s bureaucratic abyss swallows large infrastructure projects whole. Some projects die on the vine while under review. This is what Northern Pass opponents are hoping will happen, as they ask for 45 more days of hearings to air their objections. They want a rival project to beat Northern Pass to the finish line.

The SEC is not a legislative body. It is not deciding whether it wants Northern Pass, but whether the project meets statutory requirements. It was never intended to be a forum where activists could filibuster a project to death.

It should not take more than two years for a project to clear a single state regulatory hurdle.

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