Northern Pass Would Save Balsams $200,000 Annually, Developer Claims

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Les Otten says he would like to expand the current 135 acres to about 1,100 acres with possibly 800 more acres of glade skiing.

By Chris Jensen,
InDepthNH.org

Balsams developer Les Otten is telling state regulators that Northern Pass will save the Balsams resort $200,000 a year, although Northern Pass has yet to say officially how much its electricity will cost.

Les Otten

Chris Jensen

Les Otten

Otten made the statement in pre-filed testimony sent to the state Site Evaluation Committee, which will decide whether to allow Northern Pass to go ahead.

Otten spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne told InDepthNH.org that the projected savings is based on a statement made by Bill Quinlan, the president of Eversource New Hampshire, the parent company of Northern Pass.

At a public hearing in January in Whitefield, Quinlan predicted a 5 percent reduction, according the Caledonian Record.

The $200,000 savings represents the savings on an electric bill of about $4 million a year, Tranchemontagne said.

“It may not be $4 million in year one, two as we are still building out Phase 1,” Tranchemontagne said in an email.  “But certainly in year three – and more than $4 million in years four through ten.”

Trachemontagne said much of that electricity would be for the ski area, including snowmaking.

“It is not unusual for a large ski resort to spend $4 million on energy each year,” said John McMurry, a senior energy consultant at Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, where his work includes helping ski areas reduce their energy cost.

The five percent was “Quinlan’s estimate,” Eversource spokesman Martin Murray said.

Murray said the company did not privately provide any information to Otten about possible savings.

Murray did not directly respond when asked whether anyone outside Eversource could accurately predict savings.

Eversource is trying to keep secret how much it expects to pay for electricity from Hydro-Quebec.

The Public Utilities Commission is considering a 20-year contract under which Eversource would buy electricity from Hydro-Quebec should Northern Pass be approved.

But Eversource is asking the P.U.C. to keep the purchase price confidential, saying disclosure would put it at a competitive disadvantage.

As first reported by the Concord Monitor, that confidentiality is being strongly opposed by Donald Kreis, who heads up the state’s Office of Consumer Advocate, which is responsible for standing up for the state’s consumers.

In his filing with the P.U.C. Kreis argues that the state’s consumers have a right to know the price. Consumers need to understand the contract, the benefits of Northern Pass and “whether the Commission comes up with the right answer” in deciding whether to approve it.

In his testimony Otten also said that he favors the controversial project in part because the resort “is a supporter of renewable and sustainable energy, which Northern Pass Transmission represents.”

In March, Otten announced Northern Pass was providing $2 million for the Balsams and there was a chance for a “more substantial investment.”

Otten has yet to round-up all the financing he needs. That includes filing the paperwork so the state’s Business Finance Authority can consider whether the state should back a $28 million loan.

Click here for Les Otten’s pre-filed testimony with the Site Evaluation Committee

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