No decision yet on clean energy procurement

Utilities issue no decision as of late Tuesday

THE STATE’S THREE UTILITIES apparently have decided that a Tuesday deadline means they have until midnight, so there was no word as of Tuesday evening on the winner of the state’s multi-billion-dollar clean energy procurement.

The state had given the utilities until Tuesday to decide whether to stick with Northern Pass or shift gears and go with the runner-up proposal submitted by Central Maine Power.  Still, the language was a bit vague, giving the utilities “the option of ceasing discussions” with Northern Pass and terminating its previously announced conditional selection by March 27.

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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.

It was unclear whether the delay until midnight meant the utilities were at loggerheads, or whether the delay was caused by other factors. Eversource Energy is one of the utilities trying to negotiate a clean energy contract and it is also the transmission partner of the Northern Pass project, which seeks to deliver Quebec hydro-power into New England via a line through New Hampshire.

Eversource appeared to have won the contract on January 25, when state officials announced the conditional award. But the project was dealt a crippling blow when the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee denied Northern Pass a key permit on February 1. Officials decided to continue contract negotiations with Northern Pass until at least March 27 while also bringing in Central Maine Power to the talks.

The Site Evaluation Committee has shown no signs of budging, so it’s unclear whether Northern Pass remains a viable option. Central Maine Power, however, still hasn’t obtained most of its permits to build a transmission line to deliver Quebec hydropower into Maine.