Eversource to seek Northern Pass reconsideration
NH business group calls on regulators to reverse course on permit denial
EVERSOURCE ENERGY, which is facing a March 27 deadline to get its Northern Pass project back on track, is planning to ask a New Hampshire regulatory board to reconsider its unanimous decision to deny the transmission line a key permit.
“We feel we have a strong legal argument to make and we will make our filing soon,” said Martin Murray, a spokesman for Eversource. “We’re quite hopeful that, if we demonstrate good progress by March 27, we’ll remain in a strong position to be the project that ultimately delivers clean energy to Massachusetts.”
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee voted 7-0 on February 1 to deny Northern Pass a permit it needs to build its transmission line. The vote came a week after Massachusetts officials decided to award Northern Pass a 20-year, multibillion-dollar contract to import hydro-electricity from Quebec.
With Northern Pass in doubt, Massachusetts last week came up with a Plan B – keep talking to Northern Pass while bringing in a backup project. Like Northern Pass, the backup project, proposed by Central Maine Power, would also partner with Hydro-Quebec to import hydro-electricity from Canada. But the transmission line carrying the electricity would run through Maine instead of New Hampshire. The Central Maine Power project is expected to be completed by December 2022; Northern Pass, prior to the permit denial, had an earlier completion date of 2020.
The Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire announced on Tuesday that it supports Northern Pass and wants the Site Evaluation Committee to reconsider its earlier vote. The association, a statewide chamber of commerce, said the committee’s decision puts the state’s economic future in jeopardy.“Those who claim New Hampshire can get by without Northern Pass are playing roulette with New Hampshire’s economy,” the association said in a statement. “Already, businesses from outside New Hampshire and others now here have reversed their plans to grow in the state due to the Site Evaluation Committee’s decision.” The statement did not identify the businesses.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has also been critical of the Site Evaluation Committee’s decision. In a recent radio interview, he said the committee members didn’t review all of the issues and didn’t ask Eversource whether it would be willing to address their concerns. “The ball was on the five yard line and the referee stepped in and said game over,” he said.