Meanwhile, NH PUC Shoots Down Northern Pass PPA
- Northern Pass
In something of a bombshell announcement, National Grid announced this week that they are proposing a new transmission project that would carry 1,200 additional megawatts across upgraded transmission lines along their existing right-of-way corridor through Vermont and New Hampshire. The "Granite State Power Link" would compete directly with the proposed and highly controversial Northern Pass transmission line as well as the proposed (and already permitted) New England Clean Power Link, an underground and underwater project in Vermont.
This news came on the heels of more bad news for Northern Pass. On Monday, March 27, the N.H Public Utilities Commission (PUC) dismissed the Eversource petition to enter into a Purchase Power Agreement with Northern Pass for 10 percent of the electricity for PSNH ratepayers.
The Forest Society has not taken a position on the National Grid proposal. However, as part of our long-standing objections to Northern Pass as proposed, the Forest Society has repeatedly asked why, if New England wants to avail itself of more power from Quebec, the existing National Grid transmission corridor couldn’t be used. We finally have the straight answer: It can. The press release from National Grid is short on details, but the basics are that it would be an overhead line on existing ROW using 80% of the existing towers (with upgraded cables). Six new miles of ROW would be required.
There are many other questions to be asked and answered about this new proposal, but it’s clear that it’s a viable alternative to Northern Pass. It is timed to allow National Grid to bid into the Massachusetts RFP in competition with Northern Pass and New England Clean Power Link. The National Grid project would be a $1 billion project vs. $1.6 billion for Northern Pass, meaning that it’s likely to create real problems for Northern Pass. One might say that Northern Pass just got bumped to the back of the line.
Meanwhile, Northern Pass's own case before the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee was weakened considerably by the PUC's action on the Purchase Power Agreement (PPA). In its order, the PUC determined that the proposed PPA would be illegal:
In this Order, the Commission dismisses Eversource’s petition requesting approval of a proposed 20-year Power Purchase Agreement between Eversource and Hydro Renewable Energy Inc., and associated program details. The Commission has determined that the proposal cannot be approved because it is inconsistent with New Hampshire law, specifically the Electric Utility Restructuring Statute, RSA Chapter 374-F.
Northern Pass had put forward the PPA as a major component of the ‘public benefit’ for New Hampshire that they must demonstrate in order to get a required permit at the SEC. In addition, Hydro-Quebec continues to say that they “won’t pay” to build the line—meaning that they need guarantees like a long-term PPA in order to go forward. Northern Pass struck out with the three-state RFP last fall, and now with the N.H. PPA. And they’re facing stiff competition for the upcoming Massachusetts RFP.
You can read more about the PUC decision here:
Here are links to media coverage of the National Grid announcement and reaction to the proposal:
NH Business Review: http://www.nhbr.com/March-31-2017/National-Grid-proposes-NH-Vt-high-pow…