Healey to Baker: Don’t leave N. Pass decision to utilities
AG says DOER, independent evaluator need to be involved
ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY on Tuesday urged Baker administration officials to actively participate in deliberations over what to do about the stalled Northern Pass hydro-electricity project, and not leave the decision exclusively to the state’s utilities.
Healey apparently decided to write to Judith Judson, commissioner of the Department of Energy Resource, because of confusing signals coming out of the Baker administration. On Friday, administration officials indicated the state’s three utilities would make a decision about Northern Pass, which won the state’s clean energy procurement and a week later saw New Hampshire regulators deny the project a critical permit.
Judson herself wrote a letter to the utilities, called EDCs, or electric distribution companies, on Friday suggesting they should reach out to Northern Pass officials and “quickly come to a joint decision on appropriate next steps, which could include moving forward with contract negotiations or, alternatively, terminating negotiations and returning to bid selection. After such assessment, DOER requests that the EDCs meet with the DOER and the independent evaluator no later than February 9 to discuss the matter.”
The independent evaluator is an outside firm hired by DOER and the attorney general’s office to monitor the contracting process.
Ress said all the parties typically meet at the DOER office in Boston, with staff experts and outside consultants brought in via teleconference. Ress said the group tries to reach consensus. “While Eversource and National Grid are the largest companies and about equal in size, everybody gets a say in the process,” she said.
Peter Lorenz, a spokesman for Baker, issued a statement that said little about how the Northern Pass project will be evaluated. “The Department of Energy Resources will continue working with the independent evaluator, who was jointly chosen with the attorney general, to ensure a fair and transparent clean energy procurement process that follows guidelines laid out by the Legislature and included in the RFP,” he said.Healey, in her letter to Judson on Tuesday, said it is her view that any evaluation or assessment of Northern Pass must be handled jointly by the three utilities and DOER with the independent evaluator playing a monitoring role.
Healey urged the utilities and DOER to explain in writing and release to the public any determination they make about Northern Pass. She also said the utilities and DOER should explain to all the other bidders on the clean energy procurement what is going to happen at a meeting on February 16.