We have listened to the concerns voiced in New Hampshire about our previous proposal. What we heard loud and clear was the concern over potential view impacts, especially in the most treasured areas of our state. Our new plan works to address those concerns by burying 60 miles of lines. The plan also maintains the fundamental promise of Northern Pass—to deliver clean, reliable, and economically priced power to New Hampshire and New England.
The Project’s design changes include burying the line in and around the White Mountain National Forest, Franconia Notch, and the Appalachian Trail, completely eliminating the potential for view impacts from those sensitive areas. In addition, the Project is presenting a package called the Forward New Hampshire Plan, which will provide substantial benefits, totaling $3.8 billion, including:
Our new plan offers a balanced approach that reduces the impact of the Project in important ways while also providing unique economic benefits for New Hampshire. We’ve done a lot of listening over the last year. In our discussions with New Hampshire residents and stakeholder groups, we heard consistent support for more burial, particularly in the White Mountain National Forest, and more direct economic benefits for New Hampshire communities.
Major modifications to the Project balance critical environmental, economic and visual factors. This fundamental change addresses inter-related concerns expressed by New Hampshire citizens about tourism, historic landscapes, property values, and aesthetics. The additional 52 miles of underground, for a total of 60 miles, eliminates potential view-related impacts in the White Mountain National Forest, the gateway areas to the north and south, the Appalachian Trail, and other critical view sheds.
This additional underground construction will result in the longest HVDC land cable installation (underground) in North America. By adopting an innovative engineering approach to the project, and changing the cable technology, our engineers have been able to reduce the height of many of the remaining overhead HVDC structures, further minimizing potential view impacts.
At the same time, however, the change in cable technology results in a reduction in the capacity of the project (from 1,200 megawatts to 1,090 megawatts) and a corresponding reduction in clean energy benefits and potential revenues. As the Department of Energy (DOE) recognized in its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), using underground construction for the entire route would represent a significant increase in the cost of the Project.
The Forward NH Fund will receive and allocate $200M over a 20 year period for projects associated with community betterment, clean energy innovation, economic development, and tourism. The Fund will work with an Advisory Board to evaluate projects for allocation of funds. Advisory Board members will be business, municipal, environmental and labor leaders, and North Country leaders, among others. The Advisory Board will review grant applications and responses to proactive grant-making initiatives and may also consider special programs aligned with key objectives to develop specific funding recommendations.
We have listened to the concerns voiced in New Hampshire about our previous proposal. What we heard loud and clear was the concern over potential view impacts, especially in the most treasured areas of our state.
The decision to use an additional 52 miles of underground construction in the White Mountain National Forest and along the north and south gateway areas is a major commitment to address the primary concern of most New Hampshire residents. More than 80 percent of the route is along existing transmission corridors or underground in public roadways. We have relied on professional view impact analysis to determine where to make other adjustments to structure locations and design. For example:
No. A concern has been raised, focusing on New Hampshire’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), that Northern Pass may harm renewable projects by reducing the value of the renewable energy credits available under the RPS program. Northern Pass, however, does not qualify for the RPS program and will therefore have no impact on the value of renewable energy credits. Moreover, the project will invest over $50M to upgrade the Coös Loop transmission system, and as part of the Forward New Hampshire Plan, will invest over $1 million in the Coös Loop to enable renewable projects to provide their output to the grid. Finally, the large-scale hydropower from Northern Pass will help to balance the intermittent power from wind and solar projects, which has been a concern for the Independent System Operator (ISO). This hydropower is a good partner for non-hydro renewables, which require a reliable backup – this, in turn, could encourage more renewable projects.
Northern Pass will create approximately 2,600 jobs during the peak of construction. In addition, the Project is committed to hiring New Hampshire workers first; has supported an innovative electrical worker training program; and has committed $7.5 million to a North Country Jobs Creation Fund.
The Project will improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gases in New Hampshire and New England, consistent with national, regional, and state air quality and climate change goals. The Project will reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the region by as much as 3.2 million tons a year.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New England states have long recognized that regional approaches are needed to help reduce air emissions. The New England Governors Association, Coalition Of New England Governors (CONEG), Northeast States for Coordinated Use Management (NESCAUM), the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC), the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and other groups have been working together cooperatively for many years to improve air quality and address climate change in the region.
New Hampshire’s Climate Action Plan sets goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, which is consistent with the New England Governors’ and Eastern Canadian Premiers’ resolutions. The Plan supports the construction of high voltage transmission lines to import clean power generated from Canadian hydro and wind sources as a complementary policy to developing non-carbon emitting sources of power in New Hampshire. The Plan states that the importation of electricity from Canadian hydropower and wind resources "could provide new power sources to offset future local and regional growth and facilitate retiring or curtailing the operation of fossil fuel-fired plants in New England.”
Because the hydropower from Northern Pass does not qualify under New Hampshire’s RPS program requirements, it will complement, rather than compete with, locally produced wind and solar power. It will also serve as a base-load, or constant, source of renewable energy while wind and solar operate intermittently.
The Project also helps meet national, regional and state air quality goals by displacing fossil fuel fired forms of generation. At the national level, the federal Climate Action Plan is a blueprint intended to slow the effects of climate change by deploying a clean energy strategy. The Plan directs the EPA to develop carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants. In response, the EPA developed the Clean Power Plan (CPP) to achieve a 32% reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels. The "All-Of-The-Above” Energy Strategy recognizes that "low- and zero-carbon renewable, nuclear, and clean coal energy sources have a central role to play in a clean energy future,” and supports the production of electricity from renewables. Canadian hydro is recognized by EPA as a qualifying renewable resource in its final Clean Power Plan.
Northern Pass will continue to reach out to communities,
landowners, and public officials, along the route throughout the permitting process. Additionally, there are a number of
opportunities for the public to comment. The Department of
Energy has accepted written public comment and in 2016 held a series of public
hearings on its draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Northern Pass, providing residents with the opportunity to
comment on the project in person. In the state permitting process, the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee held a series of Public Information Sessions and public hearings in 2016, and continues to accept written public comment. For more information on how to send
a comment to the DOE or the NHSEC, go to: http://www.northernpass.us/permitting-siting.htm.
Northern Pass submitted its application for a Certificate of Site and Facility to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) on October 19, 2015. An integral part of this process is the series of Public Information Sessions that take place both before and after the application is submitted.
The NH SEC issued an order stating that the Northern Pass application is complete on December 18, 2015 and has until September 2017 to act on it. During this adjudicative process the Committee will consider testimony from expert and other witnesses offered by the applicant, counsel for the public, and interveners.
The federal review process continues while the state process proceeds. We anticipate that the Department of Energy (DOE) will issue a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in 2016, and a Record of Decision and Presidential Permit for the project in 2017 following the completion of the state siting process.