After the announcement of Northern Pass’ new proposed route through Northern Coos - expected late this morning - the utility’s next steps will be to seek state and federal approval.
Having a new proposed route means Northern Pass can formally file it with the U.S. Department of Energy, which has to give its approval for a Presidential Permit. That permit allows the hydro-electric power to be imported from Canada.
That DOE filing will trigger a new set of public hearings around the state. Such hearings were first held in 2011. But the route change requires new hearings.
State approval has to come from the Site Evaluation Committee which considers all major utility projects.
Wednesday Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill establishing a group to study ways to improve the Site Evaluation Committee, including providing more citizen input.
Some Northern Pass opponents had hoped the study and possible changes might complicate approval of the project. The deadline for that study isn’t until the end of the year and adopting changes could take longer.
Northern Pass says it hopes to file an application with the SEC in 2014. However, state officials say if the application is filed before any changes take place Northern Pass would be considered under the existing system.