Eversource Energy and Northern Pass Transmission LLC (NPT), a subsidiary of Eversource Energy, have announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Record of Decision (ROD) and approved the Presidential Permit for the Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission project that will allow NPT to construct transmission facilities at the U.S./Canada border in Pittsburg, New Hampshire. This approval is the culmination of a thorough review of the project that involved numerous federal agencies, extensive public involvement, and detailed consideration of approximately a dozen different alternatives.
“We are pleased to see the DOE permitting process for Northern Pass draw to a close, and appreciate the years of diligent work done by the federal agencies in reaching this critical project milestone,” said Eversource New Hampshire president Bill Quinlan. “With the New Hampshire and Canadian permitting processes also nearing completion, and considering we have all major contractor, equipment, and labor agreements in place, Northern Pass is on track to begin construction by mid-2018. This is good news for customers, and for the broad and diverse group of New Hampshire stakeholders who support this project for the many benefits it will bring to the state and the region.”
In approving the Presidential Permit for Northern Pass, DOE found that the permit was in the public interest and that the project would have no adverse impacts on reliability of the U.S. electric power system, particularly in New England. As required, DOE also obtained favorable recommendations from the U.S. Departments of State and Defense. The extensive review of Northern Pass was led by DOE and involved the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service–White Mountain National Forest, the New England District of the Army Corps of Engineers and the New Hampshire Office of Energy Planning as cooperating agencies. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also participated in the review of potential impacts on threatened and endangered species.
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is expected to issue a separate final ROD soon in response to NPT’s application for a special use permit to allow burial of the transmission line through the White Mountain National Forest. In a draft ROD issued in September, the USFS proposed to approve NPT’s application, concluding that the short-term construction impacts of the project are “more than outweighed by the benefits of bringing additional hydropower to the New England grid.”
Northern Pass will result in up to 3.2 million metric tons of avoided CO2 emissions per year in New England. Estimated wholesale electricity market benefits are approximately $600 million annually for New England and $62 million annually for New Hampshire. Northern Pass will create a significant increase in New Hampshire’s Gross Domestic Product, estimated to be $2.2 billion over the project’s construction period and in the first 10 years of operation, and the project will create 2,600 jobs in New Hampshire during construction.
The 192-mile (approx. 309 kilometres) Northern Pass electric transmission line will begin at the Canadian border in Pittsburg, New Hampshire and extend to Deerfield, New Hampshire where it will connect to the New England grid. More than 80 per cent of the line will be located along existing transmission corridors or buried along roadways to eliminate potential view impacts in the White Mountain National Forest area. It is expected to generate 1,090 megawatts of clean hydropower.