Amid Criticism, US DOE Approves Presidential Permit for Northern Pass

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Nancy West photo

Eversource NH president Bill Quinlan is pictured at a recent Site Evaluation Committee hearing where he testified about the Northern Pass project.

THREE NEWS RELEASES ON DOE ISSUING PRESIDENTIAL PERMIT TO NORTHERN PASS – EVERSOURCE, CONSERVATION LAW FOUNDATION, GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU

Eversource Energy/Northern Pass issued a news release Thursday saying the U.S. Department of Energy approved a Presidential Permit for Northern Pass.

The permit is needed because the proposed 192-mile high-voltage transmission line from Pittsburg to Deerfield would cross the international border to import electricity from Hydro-Quebec in Canada.

Eversource’s news release was followed by one from the Conservation Law Foundation calling it an ‘’affront to New Hampshire interests.’’

“The people of New Hampshire have been loud and clear that we do not want this project slicing through our state, yet the federal government has turned a deaf ear,” said CLF New Hampshire Director Tom Irwin.

And a third news release from GOP Gov. Chris Sununu saying, ‘’New Hampshire is one step closer to lowering energy rates across the Granite State.’’ InDepthNH.org is publishing the three news releases in full below.

Eversource Energy release
U.S. Department of Energy Approves Presidential Permit for Northern Pass
Permit Follows Record of Decision and Concludes Environmental Review of the Most Advanced Clean Energy Project in New England

 

MANCHESTER, N.H. (November 16, 2017) — Eversource Energy and Northern Pass Transmission LLC (NPT), a subsidiary of Eversource Energy, today announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Record of Decision (ROD) and approved the Presidential Permit for the Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission project that will allow NPT to construct transmission facilities at the U.S./Canada border in Pittsburg, New Hampshire.

This approval is the culmination of a thorough review of the project that involved numerous federal agencies, extensive public involvement, and detailed consideration of approximately a dozen different alternatives.

“We are pleased to see the DOE permitting process for Northern Pass draw to a close, and appreciate the years of diligent work done by the federal agencies in reaching this critical project milestone,” said Eversource New Hampshire President Bill Quinlan.

“With the New Hampshire and Canadian permitting processes also nearing completion, and considering we have all major contractor, equipment and labor agreements in place, Northern Pass is on track to begin construction by mid-2018.  This is good news for customers, and for the broad and diverse group of New Hampshire stakeholders who support this project for the many benefits it will bring to the state and the region.” (See attached quotes.)

In approving the Presidential Permit for Northern Pass, DOE found that the permit was in the public interest and that the project would have no adverse impacts on reliability of the U.S. electric power system, particularly in New England.

As required, DOE also obtained favorable recommendations from the U.S. Departments of State and Defense.  The extensive review of Northern Pass was led by DOE and involved the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service – White Mountain National Forest, the New England District of the Army Corps of Engineers and the New Hampshire Office of Energy Planning as cooperating agencies.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also participated in the review of potential impacts on threatened and endangered species.

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is expected to issue a separate final ROD soon in response to NPT’s application for a special use permit to allow burial of the transmission line through the White Mountain National Forest.  In a draft ROD issued in September, the USFS proposed to approve NPT’s application, concluding that the short-term construction impacts of the project are “more than outweighed by the benefits of bringing additional hydropower to the New England grid.”

Northern Pass will result in up to 3.2 million metric tons of avoided CO2 emissions per year in New England.  Estimated wholesale electricity market benefits are approximately $600 million annually for New England and $62 million annually for New Hampshire.  Northern Pass will create a significant increase in New Hampshire’s Gross Domestic Product, estimated to be $2.2 billion over the project’s construction period and in the first 10 years of operation, and the project will create 2,600 jobs in New Hampshire during construction.

Beyond its clean energy benefits and energy cost savings, Northern Pass will provide a number of benefits unique to New Hampshire, including about $30 million annually in additional tax revenue to communities along the route; $7.5 million to the North Country Job Creation Fund to develop and retain jobs in the North Country; thousands of acres set aside for conservation, recreation and mixed-use; and the $200 million Forward NH Fund to support clean energy innovations, economic development, community investment, and tourism.

The Northern Pass transmission line will begin at the Canadian border in Pittsburg, New Hampshire and extend to Deerfield, New Hampshire where it will connect to the New England grid.  More than 80 percent of the line will be located along existing transmission corridors or buried along roadways to eliminate potential view impacts in the White Mountain National Forest area.  Northern Pass will provide a robust, new interconnection path between the Québec and New England electric systems, and will be controlled by the regional system operator, ISO-New England.

Broad Support in New Hampshire

Tony GiuntaMayor-elect, City of Franklin, NH

“Issuance of the Presidential Permit for the Northern Pass project is great news for the City of Franklin and other municipalities that will directly benefit from the millions of new dollars being invested in our communities.  We greatly appreciate the thoroughness and speed at which the U.S. Department of Energy acted on this critical renewable energy project.”

Guy Montminy, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Manager, BAE Systems Electronic Systems, Nashua, NH

“News that the Northern Pass project is now one step closer to providing clean, renewable, reliable, low-cost power to New Hampshire and New England is encouraging.  BAE Systems saw its energy costs in New Hampshire grow by 24 percent per kilowatt hour from 2014 to 2016.  If these cost increases continue, they threaten New Hampshire’s economic growth.  There is no dispute that the best way to definitively lower electricity costs is to bring more reliable, affordable electricity into the New England power market.  The clean, renewable power Northern Pass will bring to the region will help address these cost increases while appropriately protecting environmental resources.  The state Site Evaluation Committee should follow the lead of federal regulators and approve this project without any further delays.”

Brian Murphy Business Manager of IBEW Local 104 of Barrington, NH

“The issuance of the federal Record of Decision and Presidential Permit by the U.S. Department of Energy represents a major milestone for the Northern Pass project and the thousands of New Hampshire working families that will benefit from this project.  After conducting scores of public hearings and receiving thousands of public comments, the U.S. DOE correctly concluded that this project provides great benefit to the people of New Hampshire and New England.  IBEW applauds the thorough and efficient permitting work of the U.S. Department of Energy, and we look forward to getting to work building this critical energy infrastructure project.”

Tracy Hatch, President & CEO, Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, Nashua, NH

“As New Hampshire businesses look to expand and grow, and as out-of-state and international companies look to relocate to New Hampshire, one of the biggest challenges they all face is the high and too often volatile cost of energy.  From manufacturing to health care, and from hospitality to retail to high-tech software development, virtually every industry we have and want to attract needs a reliable source of energy at a price they can afford with the capacity to meet their needs. Northern Pass promises to provide all that and more.  Our Chamber strongly supports Northern Pass and applauds this major step forward.”

Michael Skelton, President & CEO, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Manchester, NH

“Growing New Hampshire’s economy is directly tied to availability of low-cost and reliable sources of energy.  The GMCC has supported Northern Pass for years as we know an energy project of this scale will deliver tremendous value to our economy and help attract and retain businesses and jobs to the Granite State, especially from the manufacturing sector. We are pleased to see Northern Pass achieve this important milestone.”

The Northern Pass is a 192-mile electric transmission line project that will bring to New England 1,090 megawatts of clean hydropower.  This reliable and affordable source of power will also bring a wide range of benefits to the region, including millions of dollars in energy cost savings and a significant reduction in carbon emissions.  To learn more about Northern Pass, go to www.northernpass.us.

 

 

Contacts:Martin Murray603-634-2228martin.murray@eversource.com

Kaitlyn Woods603-634-2418kaitlyn.woods@eversource.com

Conservation Law Foundation response
Federal Permit for Northern Pass an Affront to New Hampshire Interests

Permit defies overwhelming public opinion & rational energy planning

November 16, 2017 (CONCORD, NH) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement today in response to the U.S. Department of Energy’s issuance of a presidential permit for the Northern Pass transmission line. The 192-mile transmission line as proposed would cut through scenic New Hampshire landscapes in order to transport energy from Canada to Southern New England.

“The people of New Hampshire have been loud and clear that we do not want this project slicing through our state, yet the federal government has turned a deaf ear,” said CLF New Hampshire Director Tom Irwin.

“Northern Pass is an empty promise when it comes to its claims of clean, ‘green’ power, and it only threatens to harm the communities and natural places it seeks to run through. From the beginning, the federal review process has had the feel of a rubber-stamp exercise in bureaucracy, failing to address key problems with the project. Regardless of the president’s approval, we will continue standing alongside the people of New Hampshire to fight this ill-conceived proposal.”

The Northern Pass project remains under consideration for a New Hampshire state permit before construction can begin, and CLF has been a staunch advocate at the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee opposing this effort. More information about CLF’s work is available here.

Governor Chris Sununu Statement on Department of Energy Record of Decision

Contact: Ben Vihstadt,

benjamin.vihstadt@nh.gov

603-271-2121

Concord, NH – Today, following the news that the Department of Energy issued a Record of Decision and approved the Presidential permit for the proposed Northern Pass Transmission Line project, Governor Chris Sununu issued the following statement:

“Today, New Hampshire is one step closer to lowering energy rates across the Granite State. After years of careful review, the Department of Energy has approved the Presidential Permit for the Northern Pass Transmission Line project, which will deliver 1,100 MW of clean, renewable energy to New Hampshire: a home-run for small businesses, rate-payers, and clean energy advocates. Shovel-ready projects like Northern Pass stand ready to deliver the clean, baseload electricity that Massachusetts should be actively pursuing in their Clean Energy RFP.”

 

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