Thursday, January 24, 2019

Northern Pass Files for Siting Approval, Revises Cost

By William Opalka

The developers of the Northern Pass transmission line have filed for siting approval from New Hampshire with a higher price tag, a slightly altered route and another adjustment in the amount of hydropower the project can carry from Canada.

Northern Pass

(Click to zoom.)

Eversource Energy now says the high voltage transmission line from Canada will cost $1.6 billion, up from previous estimates of $1.4 billion. The higher cost reflects changes in the route made in recent weeks after a series of public meetings held in five New Hampshire counties.

The line will carry 1,090 MW, up from an estimated 1,000 MW when project revisions were announced in August. Capacity was revised downward two months ago when an additional 52 miles of the route were proposed to be buried in the White Mountains. (See Northern Pass Opponents Want More of Line Buried.)

The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee is expected to take 14 months to review the proposal; Eversource hopes to bring the 192-mile project online in 2019.

The increased costs resulted in part from engineering and design changes to more than 60 structures to reduce view impacts along scenic byways and river and highway crossings. The filing also projects a 9% increase in capacity over earlier estimates.

“At the time we announced the new plan, in August, we were analyzing a number of technical issues surrounding the project and firming up costs,” spokesman Martin Murray said. “Now that we’ve locked in our cable and converter supplier, and completed our technical review, we are comfortable that the project will be capable providing up to 1,090 MW.”

The “filing marks another important milestone in our effort to deliver a clean energy solution that our customers desperately need in order to diversify our power supply and stabilize energy prices,” Bill Quinlan, president of Eversource Operations in New Hampshire, said in a statement.

Project developers noted that Entergy’s Oct. 13 announcement that it will retire the Pilgrim nuclear plant in Massachusetts will reduce New England’s carbon-free generation, “challeng[ing] the region’s clean air goals.” (See Entergy Closing Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.)

The proposed route would cross over land owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. That won’t happen without a fight, the group says.

“What Eversource has put forward blatantly and knowingly disregards our property rights and the conservation easements we hold in northern New Hampshire, where they do not have an existing [right of way],” group spokesman Jack Savage said in a statement. “It is unclear to us how they hope to acquire a contiguous route without having access to eminent domain.”

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