Utility Markets, Business Leaders Reeling From Surprise Defeat For Northern Pass

Feb 2, 2018

Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

New England utility markets are still processing Thursday’s rejection of the Northern Pass project application at the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee.

Eversource’s 192-mile transmission line proposal had just been picked by Massachusetts for a big contract to bring Canadian hydropower to New England.

Now that the project has stalled, Massachusetts says only that it's re-evaluating. Its other options include other big, hydro-fueled transmission lines.

But Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association, says he can't see those other projects getting done by the Commonwealth's deadline of late 2020.

"I think this is a signal for the region to go back to the tenants of a competitive, open marketplace in which the utilities don't put the thumb on the scale for one project or another,” he said.

Meanwhile, the head of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire says he’s disappointed by the decision made yesterday by state regulators to deny a permit to the Northern Pass project.

The BIA has remained neutral on the controversial energy project. But speaking on NHPR’s The Exchange this morning, President Jim Roche said something needs to be done to address the state’s high energy costs.

"This decision and this process is very frustrating for businesses, particularly large energy users like manufacturers, which drive New Hampshire's economy like no other sector of the economy does," he said.

Roche accused the panel of short circuiting the deliberative process.

Eversource said it plans to seek reconsideration of the SEC’s decision.