In what appears to be a groundbreaking tactic Northern Pass says it plans to ask the state’s Site Evaluation Committee to give it permission to bury its transmission lines on roadside property that the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forest says it controls.
But there are serious doubts that the Site Evaluation Committee has that authority, leading to the prospect of a court fight and delay in the project.
A house subcommittee has again started work on three bills inspired by the Northern Pass Transmission project held in committee over the summer. The bills would require developers to bury transmission lines, place them along transportation corridors when feasible, or to not build them if regulators determine there is no public need.
A top executive with Northeast Utilities told analysts Tuesday that he expects to have final approval for the Northern Pass Project around the middle of 2015 and be importing hydro-electric energy from Canada two years later.
"Our plan has both the state and federal permitting processes complete by mid-2015. On that schedule we expect to bring the project into service around mid-2017," said Northeast Utilities chief operating officer Lee Olivier during a conference call with analysts.
Northern Pass has formally filed its new route with the Department of Energy and it raises the possibility the hydro-electric project might still need to cross a tiny section of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Conservation area.
Late last month Northern Pass officials revealed a new northern route through Coos Country. It calls for burying almost eight miles of line alongside roads, mostly in Stewartstown. But that will require the approval of the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.
After a series of delays PSNH has announced a new route for its Northern Pass project.
The route follows a more easterly path than the original 2010 route and it includes nearly eight miles of underground wires. But this new route isn’t a done deal. State officials still have to approve a key element – putting those underground lines on public property.
PSNH has announced a new route for their controversial hydroelectric project.
In the northern part of the state, the new route veers east from Pittsburg, Clarksville and Stewartstown to Dixville. Then, it drops south to Drummer in the middle of the state, before bending back west to Northumberland on existing rights of way.
PSNH president Gary Long says PSNH owns all of the property or easements necessary to connect power lines from Canada down to Deerfield.
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.
Some Northern Pass opponents are hoping Governor Maggie Hassan will sign Senate Bill 99, which they think may complicate approval of the controversial hydro-electric project. The bill may reach Hassan's desk this week but she says she hasn’t decided what to do.
“I haven’t reviewed the bill yet in any kind of detail so I’ll do that and then make up my mind,” she told NHPR Saturday.
Governor Maggie Hassan has sent a letter to the governor of Connecticut, Democrat Dannel Malloy, asking him to reject changes to that state’s renewable energy laws, called the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The changes are seen as a boost to the controversial Northern Pass Transmission line.
The Governor Hassan’s letter says the Connecticut proposal that would allow hydro to be counted toward that state’s renewable energy goals quote, “undermines our common goal of fostering new and small-scale renewable resources here in New England.”
During a quarterly conference call Thursday officials at Northeast Utilities, the parent company of the Northern Pass project, said while they have a new route they still aren’t ready to say where it goes.
And that the soonest the project could now get underway is 2017.
NHPR’s Chris Jensen listened in and has this report:
One reason the starting date of Northern Pass has slipped from 2015 to 2017 is opposition to the project.