Exec's Statements On Northern Pass Challenged

Nov 20, 2012

Last week at a conference in Arizona a top official at Northeast Utilities provided an update on the Northern Pass Transmission project.

But some of his statements are being refuted.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

The industry conference was for electric utility companies, analysts and those interested in the business.

In one session Thomas J. May, the president and CEO of Northeast Utilities spoke about his company’s Northern Pass project.

“This project has the support of every environmental group in New England, basically.”

That came as a huge and infuriating surprise to some of the region’s major environmental groups.

Jack Savage is with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, which opposes the project.

“Well, I thought at best Mr. May was irresponsibly misinformed.”

Christophe Courchesne, is a lawyer for the Conservation Law Foundation, which opposes the project in its current form.

“We’re not aware of any groups that support the project.”

A Northern Pass spokesman didn’t respond when asked for a list of environmental groups May said were supporting the project. 

May also puzzled some people with a comment about ISO New England, which operates the region’s high-voltage power grid and wholesale electricity markets.

ISO New England, which is responsible for our reliability and keeping the lights on to a great degree are very concerned about capacity and the need for increased fuel diversity. So, they have been a big proponent of this project.”

But ISO New England spokeswoman Marcia Blomberg said the group has not taken a position on Northern Pass.

May also suggested there is good news ahead when Governor-elect Maggie Hassan takes office.

“There is a new governor in New Hampshire that we believe is supportive of the project.”

However, Hassan spokesman Marc Goldberg said Hassan “is not supportive of the initial proposal” and “any new proposal should undergo rigorous review and address concerns of the communities involved.”

Finally May told the group that the governor of Connecticut – where Northeast Utilities is based – is behind the project and will go to some lengths to help.

“Governor Malloy has been very outspoken about it and has suggested he would go to President Obama to help us with the licensing on this project.”

Andrew Doba, a spokesman for governor Dannel Malloy, said the governor thinks Northern Pass could be a good thing for the region.

But, he said, the governor did not offer to speak to President Obama about it.

For NHPR News this is Chris Jensen