Northern Pass Denied Once More By NH Committee
by TIM CRONIN, MARCH 16th, 2018
WHAT IS NORTHERN PASS?
Northern Pass is a project, owned by the Eversource utility company, to construct a 192-mile electric transmission line from New Hampshire’s border with Canada to the Massachusetts electric grid. The transmission project is meant to help meet Massachusetts’ clean energy needs, and was the winner of the state’s massive 1.2 MW clean energy RFP last fall. The project beat out over 2 dozen others, with Baker Administration officials choosing it on the grounds of cost effectiveness.
Despite winning approval from the Baker Administration, the project has not been granted the permits from New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) necessary to begin construction. The SEC’s decision came on February 1st, which Eversource had asked it to reconsider.
THE SEC’s DECISION IN CONTEXT
The SEC’s decision puts additional pressure on Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, and calls into question the process for selecting winning procurement projects. Other state officials, such as Attorney General Maura Healey, have been vocal in their criticism of current procurement process. She, and others, have cited the potential conflict of interest in having the very utilities that stand to benefit from the procurement being major players in deciding which projects are approved by the state.
Using a similar procurement process, the state is expected to announce the winner of an even larger 1.6 MW wind procurement off the south coast of Martha’s Vineyard in the coming week. Critics worry that the flaws they see in the process could stall both procurements and throw Massachusetts off track for reaching its emissions reduction goals.
The New Hampshire sitting committee’s decision leaves open the possibility of the NH Supreme Court becoming involved, which is the only course of appeal that Northern Pass’ owners have. What’s more likely is that the Baker Administration, will choose a different project if the SEC refuses to grant permits,.
If Northern Pass is eventually rejected by the SEC, the Baker administration is likely to choose between one of two competing projects, Vermont’s Clean Power Link or Central Maine Power’ transmission project.
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TIM CRONIN POLICY ASSOCIATE
Tim assists in coordinating CABA’s Policy Program, and is a young professional with experience in community organizing and state politics. He is currently pursuing a B.A. in Economics at Stonehill College. Tim has previously studied Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) at Oxford University, and has interned at the State House and in local government. He currently serves as student-body president at Stonehill College where he has continued to fight for sustainable initiatives such as fossil fuel divestment, expanding the college’s solar farm, and reducing food waste. Tim is on the board of a local civic association in his hometown of Weymouth, and is the founder of the community nonprofit Green Weymouth. Tim enjoys reading The Economist, listening to podcasts, and exploring state parks in his free time.