Natl. Grid finds novel way to lobby clean energy procurement
Enlists help of New Hampshire lawmakers in letter to DeLeo
NATIONAL GRID, which has been raising concerns about the Massachusetts procurement process for clean energy, found a novel way to make its case: enlist the help of the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
Forty-four of the 400 members of the New Hampshire House recently sent a letter to House Speaker Robert DeLeo and other political leaders in Massachusetts urging the adoption of a number of policies favored by National Grid.
Rep. Stephen Shurtleff, a Democrat and one of the original signers of the letter, said National Grid was very helpful in drafting the letter. He said he signed on primarily because of his opposition to Northern Pass, a project that would deliver hydroelectricity into New England from Quebec along a transmission line running through New Hampshire.
Rep. Gene Chandler, the Republican deputy speaker of the House and the other original signer of the letter, could not be reached for comment.
The Oct. 30 letter urged DeLeo (with copies to Gov. Charlie Baker, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, and Attorney General Maura Healey) to take appropriate steps to make public the scoring and evaluative methods in advance of the final selection, to ensure the winning project or projects yield meaningful carbon emission reductions, and to include public opinion in evaluating the clean energy bids.
The first two requests mirror concerns National Grid has raised about the procurement process. National Grid is one of the bidders on the clean energy procurement, submitting two proposals – one that would import new wind power from Quebec and a second that would import new wind, solar, and hydro power from New York. Like many of the bidders, National Grid is concerned that Hydro-Quebec, with its vast reserves of hydroelectricity, is the front-runner for the procurement. Hydro-Quebec has submitted six proposals to Massachusetts with three different transmission companies.
National Grid has said Hydro-Quebec’s proposals to deliver energy into New England, including the Northern Pass project, would not result in a net reduction of carbon emissions because the hydro facilities producing the power have already been built or financed. National Grid said selecting a Hydro-Quebec project would merely shift hydroelectricity currently being delivered to New York and Ontario and redirect the power to New England.
National Grid has also recommended that the scoring methodology for the clean energy procurement be released publicly before a winner is announced so everyone knows how wind, solar, and hydroelectric power are being evaluated.
The third recommendation, to incorporate public opinion into the evaluation process, appears targeted directly at Northern Pass, the transmission project developed jointly by Eversource Energy and Hydro-Quebec.
“As you likely know, in recent years many energy projects have been brought before New Hampshire and have inflamed the passions of thousands who have organized and made their voices heard. These voices need to be considered in Massachusetts as it relates to any RFP project,” the letter from the Granite State lawmakers said. “It is imperative that RFP evaluators embrace solutions that minimize impacts and maximize the use of existing energy corridors and infrastructure.”Shurtleff, the New Hampshire state representative, said National Grid’s clean energy proposal is much less intrusive than the Eversource/Hydro-Quebec one. Asked about the other two Hydro-Quebec projects, which run through Vermont and Maine, he said he wasn’t familiar with them.
Asked for comment on the letter from the New Hampshire lawmakers, a spokeswoman for Eversource Energy defended the Northern Pass project as the best and fastest way to deliver clean energy to New England. She also passed along documents and letters indicating the project has the support of Gov. Chris Sununu, New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse, and a host of other public and private officials.