By Nancy West
CONCORD – As the Northern Pass adjudicative hearings continued Thursday, InDepthNH.org obtained a new study that claims its competitor – National Grid’s Granite State Power Link – would be far better for the environment, a claim that Hydro-Quebec was quick to rebut.
The study, which was commissioned by a subsidiary of National Grid, says the Granite State Power Link and its smaller project, the Northeast Renewable Link, would reduce tons more greenhouse gas emissions than what the Northern Pass Transmission bids into the Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP would reduce.
The study, “Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impacts: New Class I Resources vs. Existing Large Hydro,” was done by ESAI Power LLC, an independent energy research and consulting firm, at the request of GridAmerica Holdings, a subsidiary of National Grid.
“Combined, GSPL and the NRL will enable approximately 1,700 MW of new wind and solar power in the United States and Canada, resulting in a 22.6 million ton reduction in global CO2 emissions over the first 10 years of operation, accounting for impacts across New England, New York and Ontario,” the study said.
By contrast, Northern Pass and similar transmission projects that will deliver 700 mw of existing hydro and 300 mw of new wind generation would result in a 3.5 million ton reduction over the same period accounting for impacts across New England, New York and Ontario, the study said.
“Additionally, lines carrying only existing or near-operation large-scale hydro would result in virtually no reductions in global CO2 emissions across the same area,” the study found.
Joe Rossignoli, director of business development at National Grid, said the electricity generated by Hydro-Quebec that would be imported to southern New England over 192 miles of Northern Pass Transmission lines is already being generated and sent to New York and Ontario.
“That doesn’t do anything for reducing greenhouse gas emissions because they are taking Hydro-Quebec power that is currently being delivered mostly to New York and Ontario and moving it to New England,” Rossignoli said.
By doing that, there would be increased greenhouse gas emissions in New York and Ontario, offsetting the decrease to New England, so there would be no net reduction, Rossignoli said.
Northern Pass spokesman Martin Murray said Hydro-Quebec would respond to questions about the study.
Lynn St-Laurent, Hydro-Quebec’s spokesman, said ESAI’s analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions benefits of incremental hydropower imports via new transmission interconnections with Quebec is inaccurate.
“Hydro-Quebec is concerned that National Grid’s commissioning of the ESAI report is motivated by the fact that they have a less competitive project in the (Mass RFP) process,” St-Laurent said.
St-Laurent said the study’s claim that increasing the delivery of hydropower production from existing or near-operational facilities into New England has no environmental benefits shows a lack of knowledge of how the Hydro-Quebec system is operated.
“Energy leaders in Quebec have had the foresight to develop our water resources, with a view to respond to future market opportunities,” St-Laurent said. “In order to do this, Hydro-Quebec develops projects well in advance of delivery since large hydropower facilities take 10-15 years to design and construct.”
Co-developed by National Grid and Citizens Energy, Granite State Power Link would deliver up to 1,200 mw of wind power from Canada to Vermont. Staying within or adjacent to existing transmission corridors, GSPL would build approximately 59 miles of new direct current transmission line from a new converter station in northern Vermont to a new converter station in Monroe, NH, according to its website.
“From Monroe, approximately 109 miles of upgraded existing AC (alternating current) transmission line will run to a new switching station in Londonderry, New Hampshire,” the website said.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP, will result in clean energy procurement of 9.45 TWh, or approximately 15 percent of Massachusetts’ total energy demand, over the next 20 years, the study said.
Through a competitive bidding process, the electricity distribution companies in Massachusetts solicited long-term contracts for clean energy in March, received bids in July and are expected to decide January 27, 2018.
National Grid and Northern Pass are both among the bidders in the Mass. RFP, which was initiated by legislation last year in the Bay State.
Both have submitted two bids. Northern Pass submitted a bid that would include 1,090 of hydropower and another bid that would include hydro and wind power.
Rossignoli said it is doubtful that both National Grid’s and Northern Pass’ bids would be selected.
He also said there has been very little opposition to the GSPL, unlike Northern Pass that continues to stir controversy.
“It’s been our experience that locally supported projects like this one that do very little impact to the view shed are better received,” Rossignoli said. “I think we have a lot of appeal.”
The cost of GSPL is about $1.1 billion compared to Northern Pass’ $1.6 billion price tag.
“We think this historic Massachusetts procurement opportunity should be used for the most benefit to the environment,” Rossignoli said.
Northern Pass hearing
At Thursday’s hearing, several intervenors continued cross-examining Robert W. Varney, a former Site Evaluation Committee chairman, who is now president of Normandeau Associates of Bedford and testifying for Northern Pass on orderly development.
Attorney Christine Fillmore asked Varney about comments by Mary Parker Worthen about her home in Bristol and her plans to have a business that would host weddings.
Varney said he was unaware of her plans.
“When you look at the orderly development of a region, you look at a much broader scale rather than zeroing in on speculative future uses,” Varney said.
Varney will continue testifying on Friday.
In public testimony previously, Parker Worthen said Northern Pass is not in the public interest.
“The proposed project will go right through my property. It’s right out my doorstep,” Parker Worthen said. “My family has lived and farmed this property for over 100 years, and I want to continue to do the same.”
How The Process Works Before The Site Evaluation Committee
Northern Pass’ website explains the hearings process as follows:
The SEC holds adjudicative hearings to consider and weigh evidence. The applicant has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that a Certificate should be issued. Expert witnesses submit testimony under oath and are subject to cross-examination.
Persons seeking to intervene must file a petition which demonstrates that the “petitioner’s rights, duties, privileges, immunities or other substantial interest might be affected by the proceeding.”
According to Northern Pass’ website: After an extensive adjudicative proceeding, the SEC will issue a Certificate of Site and Facility “if it finds that an applicant has adequate financial, technical, and managerial capability, that a project will not interfere with the orderly development of the region, that the project will not have an unreasonable adverse effect on aesthetics, historic sites, air and water quality, the natural environment, and public health and safety, and that the project will serve the public interest.”
Eversource had hoped to have all federal and state permits by the end of the year with construction to begin next year and the transmission line finished by the end of 2020.
Members of the subcommittee that will decide Northern Pass by a majority vote are Chairman Martin Honigberg, PUC, presiding officer; Commissioner Kathryn Bailey, PUC; Dir. Craig Wright, Department of Environmental Services; Christopher Way, Department of Business and Economic Affairs; William Oldenburg, Department of Transportation; Patricia Weathersby, public member; and Rachel Dandeneau, alternate public member.
InDepthNH.org’s comprehensive coverage of the SEC hearings on Northern Pass.
April 13, Day 1: Eversource NH Chief Quinlan On The Hot Seat At Northern Pass Hearing
April 14, Day 2: Eversource Chief Questioned About ‘Clean’ Energy Claims And Northern Pass Costs
April 17: Day 3: Eversource: Hydro-Quebec Revenues Could Fall Short In Northern Pass’ First Year
April 18: Day 4: Northern Pass’ Potential Health Concerns Debated At Hearing
April 19: Day 5: Concerns Raised About Northern Pass Affecting Health of Sherburne Woods Residents in Deerfield
April 30: Is NH Getting ‘Hoodwinked’ on Health and Safety By Northern Pass?
May 1: Day 6: Testimony: 44 New Access Roads Needed To Build 192-Mile Northern Pass in NH
May 2: Day 7: Northern Pass Expert: 3 Months of Construction Likely In Downtown Plymouth
May 3: Day 8: Project Official: Northern Pass Construction Limited To 7 am to 7 pm, Noise Assessed Daily
May 3: Eversource’s Chief Quinlan Listed as ‘Host’ For Sununu Fundraiser
May 4: Day 9: Grafton County Attorney Grills Northern Pass Experts On Land Buys
May 5: Day 9, story 2: Common Man’s Alex Ray: Northern Pass Disruption in Plymouth Would Be ‘Fatal’ To Business
May 8: Forest Society Calls Northern Pass Inflated Land Buys a ‘Shell Game’
May 25: Hydro-Quebec Explores Opportunities in New England, New York
May 31: InDepthNH.org, NHPR Talk Northern Pass With John Dankosky
May 31: Day 10: ‘Frac-Out’ Water Pollution Possible When Drilling To Bury Northern Pass
June 1: Day 11: Applicant: Northern Pass Would Mitigate Impact On Endangered State Butterfly
June 8: Day 12: Counsel for the Public: Northern Pass Financial Expert’s Perspective ‘Unnaturally Optimistic’
June 9: Day 13: Portions of Northern Pass Hearings Held In Closed Session, Again
June 12: Public Statement Hearings On Northern Pass Begin June 15
June 13: Day 14: Analyst: Customer Using 300 kw Would Save $1.50 a Month With Northern Pass
June 14: Day 15: Regulator: Committee Could Consider Conditioning Approval for Northern Pass
June 15: Day 16: Speaking Out For and Against Northern Pass From Connecticut to Concord
June 16: Day 17: Forest Society Presses Environmental Benefits of Burying Northern Pass, Yale Responds To Critics About Land Leased To Northern Pass
June 21: Northern Pass Wants Controversial Yale-Bayroot Lease Kept Confidential
June 20: Day 18: Intervenors: Northern Pass Experts Failed To Identify All Impacted Wetlands
June 22: Day 19: Northern Pass Opponents Dominate SEC Hearing
June 23: Day 20: Northern Pass Seeks 15 More Hearing Days For Total of 57
June 26: Day 21: SEC Members Quiz Northern Pass Experts On Wetland Protection
July 18: Day 22: Northern Pass Expert: Project Wouldn’t Hurt Tourism
July 19: Day 23: Site Evaluation Committee Members Criticize Northern Pass Expert on Tourism
July 20: Day 24: Pessamit Innu, Lawmakers, Citizens, Businesses All Have Their Say on Northern Pass
July 21: Day 25: Deputy Solicitor: Northern Pass’ Tax Breaks Not So Great for Concord Property Owners
July 27: More Competition & Northern Pass Commits $10M To Help Low-Income Mass. Customers
July 31: Day 26: Public Counsel Grills Northern Pass Expert On Property Value Impact
Aug. 1: Day 27: Northern Pass’ Real Estate Expert Questioned About Data Accuracy
Aug 2: Day 28: Northern Pass Real Estate Expert Concedes Power Lines ‘Thin The Market’
Aug. 3: Day 29: Northern Pass Expert Asked How 1,284 ‘Significant’ Properties Pared Down to 6
Aug. 9: Day 30: No End In Sight For Hearings on Northern Pass’ Controversial Plan
Aug. 29: Day 31: Intervenors Grill Northern Pass’ Historic Preservation Expert
Aug. 30: Day 32: Passionate People From Concord to Clarksville Speak Against Northern Pass
Aug. 31: Day 33: Panel Postpones Northern Pass Decision For Five More Months
Aug. 31: Committee Blasts Eversource For Late Access To ‘Crucial’ Northern Pass Agreement
Sept. 5: 31 Northern Pass Hearings Added; Delay Prompts Lively Facebook Exchange
Sept. 11: Day 34: Counsel: Northern Pass Expert Failed To Survey Public About Scenery Impact
Sept. 12: Day 35: Northern Pass Expert: Views Could Be Worse If Owners Cut Trees Along Route
Sept. 13: Day 36: Chairman Limits Upcoming Cross-Examination By Northern Pass Intervenors
Sept. 15: Day 37: Visual Expert: Exactly Where 52 Miles Of Northern Pass Would Be Buried Still Unknown
Sept. 18: Day 38: Ex-SEC Chairman Varney Grilled As Northern Pass’ Land Use Expert
Sept. 19: Day 39: