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BIA endorses Northern Pass, says project's rejection turning businesses from NH

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader

February 20. 2018 8:36PM




CONCORD — The Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire on Tuesday endorsed the Northern Pass project and said the project’s recent rejection was souring the business community.

“Already, businesses from outside New Hampshire and others now here have reversed their plans to grow in the state due to the Site Evaluation Committee’s decision,” President Jim Roche said in a statement.

“Members have said we cannot justify growing in New Hampshire any longer,” Roche said in an interview.

Some members can expand at other company locations outside of New Hampshire where energy costs are lower, said Roche, who declined to name any companies.

Gov. Chris Sununu also recently said he received calls since the Feb. 1 SEC vote from major employers threatening to leave the state.

Sununu and the BIA urged the SEC to reconsider its unanimous vote to deny a Northern Pass application for a certificate of site and facility.

“Its unfortunate decision to prematurely end consideration of the permit puts New Hampshire’s economic future in jeopardy,” Roche said.

Bill Quinlan, Eversource’s New Hampshire president, said in an interview Tuesday that the BIA is “saying we are now formally supporting Northern Pass and we think the project should move forward because it’s the only near-term solution” to bring more energy into the region.

The 192-mile route would run through more than 30 communities and carries a $1.6 billion pricetag.

Project critics say there are other energy projects beyond Northern Pass that could bring in power from Quebec.

“Any company for whom electric costs is an important consideration needs to look closely at what the real story is and understand that Northern Pass was never going to make a significant difference” in energy costs, said Jack Savage, a project foe with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

Savage pointed to comments made by SEC Chairman Martin Honigberg, who during deliberations said “the savings from this project, demonstrated savings, are small.”

Northern Pass officials said New Hampshire electric customers still would see more than $60 million in savings a year in energy costs over the project’s first 10 years of operation.

Roche said his board discussed the project two years ago and members “felt we were not going to choose winning and losing projects at the time.”

Northern Pass officials are preparing to file a request for the committee to reconsider its decision.

The SEC’s attorney said the committee’s vote was legal.

Referring to a recent prediction for possible rolling blackouts in New England in a few years, Roche said, “...it’s clear Northern Pass is desperately needed to avoid a deepening of our electrical energy crisis.”

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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