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Utilities reiterate backing for Northern Pass

By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

March 09. 2017 10:19PM


Eversource insisted Thursday that all is well with its Northern Pass partner Hydro-Quebec, despite a statement from the hydroelectric giant that it “will not pay a penny to bury the line in the United States.”

The statement was released Thursday, a day after Le Journal De Quebec of Quebec City ran articles saying financing of the long-stalled project had changed. The articles prompted both Hydro-Quebec and Eversource to issue statements disputing them.

Both companies reiterated their support for Northern Pass, but Hydro-Quebec did verify that it will not pay to bury the line. Sixty miles of the 192-mile proposed route is to be underground.

A Northern Pass opponent said the articles show that Eversource will force the cost of the transmission project on its customers.

Judy Reardon, senior advisor of the Concord-based Protect the Granite State, said Eversource has repeatedly promised that no one in New Hampshire will pay for the project.

“If that sounds too good to be true, it is,” she said in a statement. “Just yesterday, Hydro-Quebec issued a statement, indicating very clearly that it has no intention of paying for any of the cost of the transmission line in New Hampshire. Who pays then? You and me.”

Jack Savage, spokesman for the Society of Protection of New Hampshire Forests, said Northern Pass is facing low natural gas prices and the presence of a fully permitted transmission line ready to break ground in Vermont.

“It’s no wonder that Hydro-Quebec is having second thoughts,” Savage said.

On Wednesday, Le Journal De Quebec ran articles questioning the Northern Pass project. One claimed Hydro-Quebec would pay to bury portions of the line in the United States, but not Quebec. The other said that Hydro-Quebec has assumed the risks in the project and will have to pay the entire cost.

Eversource said nothing has changed, and that Eversource subsidiary Northern Pass Transmission will invest the $1.6 billion to construct the U.S. portion of the project.

Hydro-Quebec will do the same for the Canadian portion.

Eversource’s investment will be recouped through revenue from the use of the line, Eversource spokesman Martin Murray said.

“Both Northern Pass and HQ are totally committed to the success of the Northern Pass project. It’s somewhat unfortunate that the Quebec article led to any question of that commitment,” Murray wrote in an email.

In a statement, the provincially owned Hydro-Quebec said it has no intentions of abandoning Northern Pass, and it will ensure the project is profitable for all Quebec residents.

“We firmly believe in the strength of our alliance with our American partner, Eversource,” the statement reads.

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

Murray also said New Hampshire customers will not pay any construction costs of Northern Pass, citing a power purchase agreement with HQ for energy that will not include costs associated with Northern Pass.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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