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New Hampshire SEC issues order rejecting Northern Pass project [free access]

April 9, 2018

New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) has issued a written order, officially rejecting the siting permit for Eversource Energy's Northern Pass transmission project. The reason given is that the company failed to prove that the project did not have any harmful impact on the economy or on the orderly development of the region.


The Northern Pass project, being developed by Northern Pass Transmission LLC—a part of Eversource Energy Transmission Ventures LLC (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eversource Energy), involves the transmission of power over a 158-mile (254.38-km), ±300 kV high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line. 96.6 km of the line will be underground from the Canadian border to a converter terminal in Franklin, New Hampshire, where it will be converted to alternating current (AC) and travel along an AC transmission line for 34 miles (54.74 km) to a substation in Deerfield, New Hampshire. From there, it will interconnect to the New England power grid and serve customers in New Hampshire and all other New England states.


Since its proposal in 2010, the USD1.6 billion project has faced stiff local opposition from conservationists and landowners, even after the developers altered the project's proposed route to bury up to 60 miles (96.6 km) of the power lines underground, alongside roadways, to preserve scenic mountain views.


During February 2018, the State SEC rejected the project. In response, the developer filed a re-hearing request with the former later during the month, which has again been rejected by the former. Under its re-hearing request filed with the SEC, the developer proposed to offer up to USD300 million as compensation to low-income and business customers in the state. Further, it also offered to allocate USD95 million from a previously announced USD200 million community fund to compensate for the fall in property values (USD25 million), for economic development and promotion of tourism in affected areas (USD25 million each), and on energy efficiency programmes (USD20 million). The developers, however, did not propose any further change in the route of the project or to install any more underground transmission lines, which were the key demands from the opponents of the project.


This also affected the decision of Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to select the Northern Pass project through a competitive bidding process, to help meet the state’s renewable energy goals. Considering the concerns raised by the New Hampshire SEC, the DOER has also terminated its selection of the project, and instead has planned to continue with the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) project, proposed by Central Maine Power and Avangrid.