Another Northern Pass Shocker as Mass. Turns to Alternative

by Garry Rayno, IndepthNH

CONCORD — After two weeks of discussions, the Massachusetts clean energy bid selection committee decided to continue negotiations with Northern Pass, but to also negotiate with Central Maine Power on its New England Clean Energy Connect.

Both projects would bring about 1,200 megawatts of Hydro-Quebec to Massachusetts to help meet the state’s clean energy goals for additional renewable energy.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is pleased that with today’s announcement the Commonwealth is progressing toward securing the largest amount of renewable energy in Massachusetts’ history and will continue to pursue effective strategies to reduce carbon emissions consistent with the Global Warming Solutions Act,” said communications director Peter Lorenz.

Under the agreement reached Friday, the selection committee notified Northern Pass Transmission it will continue negotiations, but with the option of ending negotiations before the March 27 deadline to reach an agreement.

The agreement assumes Northern Pass would be able to meet its original deadline of 2020 to begin operations. The Massachusetts law calls for the program to begin by that date.

The selection team also will begin concurrent negotiations with New England Clean Energy Connect if negotiations with Northern Pass fail. The two projects agreed to the terms of the agreement.

The selection committee believes the agreement will ensure the project will meet its 2020 goal of providing new renewable electricity to the Commonwealth.

Mass. Attorney General Maura Healey said the announcement regarding the clean energy solicitation raises more questions than it answers.

“It’s unclear what happened over the last two weeks to get to this point or what criteria is being used to decide what to do in the next phase on March 27. We continue to urge the parties to fully answer the public’s questions about this process,”  said Chloe Gotsis,  Healey’s spokeswoman.

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