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Competing Power Projects Await Mass. Decision On Northern Pass Deal

col&tasha, Flickr

Massachusetts is expected to decide by Friday if it can move forward on a deal with Northern Pass.

Since Eversource was denied a permit by the state of New Hampshire, other developers – large and small – have been eager to step up.

Massachusetts wants to sign a contract or contracts for 1,200 megawatts of renewable power by late 2020.

Stakeholders are now weighing whether to drop Northern Pass, which was selected just before its rejection in New Hampshire.

If Massachusetts chooses to re-evaluate other bids, they'll have plenty of alternatives to revisit.

Those including other big transmission lines – National Grid’s Granite State Power Link in New Hampshire, TDI’s buried cable under Lake Champlain, and other projects offshore of Massachusetts, and in Maine and Southern New England.

Their proponents have clamored to get on the short list to replace Northern Pass in Massachusetts, in the days since that project got its bad news in New Hampshire.

The Bay State’s other options also include smaller wind, solar and hydro projects, from companies like Connecticut-based SunEast Development.

They sent in 10 proposals for relatively small solar farms in New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut. Co-owner Reed Wills says he hopes a do-over would give them a shot at a slice of the Massachusetts deal.

"We think Massachusetts should try and re-assess whether they want to have, as they go forward, everything locked into one project or, as we propose, a more diversified approach,” he says.

He says smaller projects are an ideal complement to big transmission lines, getting online faster than large projects with more local benefits and extra power for high-use days.

Massachusetts had planned to finish contract negotiations with its chosen project or projects by March 27. It’s unclear if regulators plan to stick to that timeline, or how long they’d take to evaluate other options if they decide to part ways with Northern Pass. 

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.
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