Northern Pass gets federal permit to bring energy across Canadian border

  • The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee and other interested parties visit a location at Alton Woods in Concord that would be affected by Northern Pass. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file

Monitor staff
Friday, November 17, 2017

Northern Pass has cleared another hurdle: The federal Department of Energy has given it the green light to bring electricity across the Canadian border into New Hampshire.

On Thursday, the DOE approved what is known as a Presidential Permit that will allow Eversource Energy to build transmission facilities at the border in Pittsburg to bring in electricity from Hydro-Quebec. The approval was not a surprise, as it had previously been supported by the department in an impact statement.

The approval required the department to determine the project would have no adverse impacts on reliability of the U.S. electric power system, particularly in New England.

“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,” said Eversource New Hampshire President Bill Quinlan.

The U.S. Forest Service has yet to rule on the project’s application for a special use permit to allow burial of the transmission line through the White Mountain National Forest, although a draft ruling in September concluded 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.”

The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee is in the midst of months of hearings on the project, which has drawn considerable opposition centered largely on the appearance of transmission towers and construction of a new right of way through national forest land.

The proposal by Eversource and Hydro-Quebec would build a 192-mile transmission line, about 60 miles of which in the North Country would be buried, running from the Canadian border to Deerfield, where 1,090 megawatts of electricity would enter the New England grid.

It is one of several proposals seeking to connect Quebec’s huge supply of hydropower to the New England grid.