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.

Priscilla Ress, a spokeswoman for Eversource Energy, which is both part of the evaluation team and a partner in Northern Pass with Hydro-Quebec, indicated in an email on Tuesday that representatives from her company, National Grid, and Unitil already meet regularly with the DOER and the independent evaluator.

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.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

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.

  • QuincyQuarry.com

    Why oh why do I suspect too many cooks and that at least some of whom have political agendas?