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Mass. officials pick Northern Pass for renewable energy

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader

January 25. 2018 9:07PM

Part of a document from the proposal for the Northern Pass bid. (Source: www.northernpass.us)
More information
Information on the Northern Pass bid for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Solicitation can be found at www.northernpass.us/ma-clean-energy-bid.htm.



All power flowing over Northern Pass’ transmission lines, if built, would be destined for Massachusetts electric customers under a proposal announced Thursday.

“It is fully subscribed,” Eversource New Hampshire President Bill Quinlan told reporters.

But 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 by Northern Pass — driving down the region’s wholesale energy prices, according to spokesman Martin Murray.

Massachusetts officials announced they chose the Northern Pass project over more than 40 others to negotiate a contract for providing renewable energy to the Bay State.

“We would be merely an extension cord, electricity flowing south and Massachusetts dollars flowing north to Quebec,” said project foe Jack Savage with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.”

Northern Pass would transmit about 9.4 million megawatt hours annually.

The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee will begin deliberations Tuesday on whether to issue a required certificate to the $1.6 billion Northern Pass project.

Quinlan said he was confident that the project met the state criteria for earning the certificate, but it is “a necessary prerequisite for us moving forward” with construction.

He didn’t rule out a court appeal if the project is rejected.

Who would pay?

The 192-mile route, which runs through more than 30 communities from Pittsburg to Deerfield, includes 60 miles of buried lines. The project will convey power generated by hydroelectric dams in Quebec.

Quinlan said New Hampshire communities along the route would benefit from additional property taxes.

Eversource stockholders and borrowing initially would fund the $1.6 billion construction cost. Eversource will recover its investment plus a profit over a 40-year period.

Massachusetts power customers would cover the first 20 years and the project’s partner, Hydro-Quebec, would pay the following 20 years, Murray said.

Eversource and Hydro-Quebec 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.

The hydro-only proposal presented “the greatest overall value to Massachusetts customers,” said Judith Judson, commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources in Massachusetts.

Not chosen was a rival transmission proposal, called the Granite State Power Link, in which National Grid and Citizens Energy would deliver power from Quebec using existing and adjacent existing transmission lines in New Hampshire.

Quinlan said the Northern Pass project has a “very aggressive” construction schedule. Work would start this year in three areas: the Franklin converter station, the White Mountain National Forest with underground line work, and at the Deerfield substation.

Overhead construction would largely be built in 2019 with a project goal of an in-service date of late 2020, he said.

Foes disappointed

Project foes were disappointed in the Massachusetts news.

Attorney Steven Whitley, who represents several municipalities as well as the Ashland Water and Sewer Department, said he hoped that people involved in the Massachusetts selection process “would see that Northern Pass was not as strong a project as they (Eversource) claimed they were.”

Whitley said he didn’t know what effect, if any, news out of Massachusetts would have on New Hampshire regulators.

“The record is what it is and we feel the arguments we made based on the record should lead the SEC to deny the project regardless of what the Mass RFP chose to do today,” he said.

Michael J. Iacopino, the SEC’s attorney, said he couldn’t answer what effect, if any, the news would have on the committee’s deliberations.

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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