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Northern Pass in-service date pushed back

July 27. 2017 9:58PM

MANCHESTER — Northern Pass is pushing back its projected in-service date by as much as a year.

News the project now is expected to be transmitting power “by the end of 2020” — assuming it gets all the necessary permits — was included in a company statement released Thursday.

“It is a new date compared to what had been previously determined,” spokesman Martin Murray confirmed after being asked about the project’s timeline.

The project had previously been projected to go in service in late 2019 or early 2020.

“The main reason for that is we do now have firm contracts and pricing,” he said. That has allowed project officials to firm up schedules, he said.

Murray said the project also encountered additional hearing days before the state Site Evaluation Committee, potentially pushing a vote on the project past a Sept. 30 deadline.

“Announcing a delay is wildly optimistic given that the doubt over whether they can even get a permit in any time frame,” said Jack Savage, a project opponent with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. “The question isn’t when. The question is if.”

The proposed $1.6 billion project needs several state and federal approvals before it can start operating. 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.

Meanwhile, Eversource and Hydro-Quebec on Thursday submitted two proposals involving Northern Pass to answer a solicitation from Massachusetts Clean Energy, which is lining up new sources of clean power for Massachusetts electric customers.

Various utilities are working to reach agreements to sell power and help pay for proposed transmission projects.

The Two Northern Pass proposals would deliver either hydroelectric energy or a combination of hydropower with new wind generation in Quebec.

In another submission, TDI-New England submitted two proposals, including one that would transmit hydropower from Hydro-Quebec into New England via the proposed New England Clean Power Link in Vermont. That is fully permitted and shovel-ready and has a proposed in-service date of late 2021 or early 2022, according to officials.

Savage noted that Hydro-Quebec partnered on two proposed transmission projects, including Northern Pass.

“What we’re seeing is Hydro-Quebec is lining up their alternatives to Northern Pass,” Savage said.

Murray said HQ has a strategic long-term plan. “They are interested in winning multiple bids,” he said.

In another submission, National Grid and Citizens Energy submitted two projects, including one involving New Hampshire. Granite State Power Link would stay within or adjacent to existing transmission corridors to deliver new wind power from Quebec. The New Hampshire corridor would run from Monroe to Londonderry. It has an in-service date of the end of 2022.

Energy Environment New Hampshire

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