Update: Eversource’s Northern Pass Project Gets Final Rejection

After rejections from both State regulators and the New Hampshire Supreme Court, Eversource announced that it's no longer pursuing Northern Pass

transmission lines

New Hampshire has twice rejected Northern Pass, and the project's parent company, Eversource, announced that it's no longer pursuing the project. Photo: Aryut Tantisoontornchai/Shutterstock

UPDATE:  On July 19, 2019, the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld the State’s rejection of the Northern Pass project. After the Site Evaluation Committee denied Eversource a permit to build in 2018, the energy company appealed the decision to the State Supreme Court. However, the Court stood behind the permit denials, rejecting the controversial transmission line for good.

The next week, after nearly a decade of hard-fought advocacy by CLF, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, the Appalachian Mountain Club and numerous towns, Eversource finally announced that it is no longer pursuing Northern Pass. 

It was another “No” for Northern Pass in July.

Northern Pass, the massive electric transmission line that Eversource proposed to build through the White Mountains, has received a final rejection from the Granite State’s energy project siting committee. At the end of March, the committee issued an initial decision rejecting Northern Pass because of the potential economic and environmental damage to communities in New Hampshire. Now, the committee has formally denied a request from Eversource to reconsider that “no” decision.

While the committee has said no once and for all, Eversource can still appeal the decision to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. But CLF will be there to stand up for the people and businesses of New Hampshire when they do.

Eversource’s Last-Ditch Efforts to Revive the Project Failed

The Site Evaluation Committee denied Eversource a permit to build Northern Pass because the utility failed to show that the project wouldn’t harm the state’s communities and economy. The massive transmission line would slice through the heart of New Hampshire, cutting through iconic landscapes, rural communities, and protected environmental resources. Towns and residents across the state rose up to oppose the project’s harmful impacts.

After the project received an initial “no” vote from the siting committee, Eversource went on a tear of new lobbying. The utility successfully garnered renewed support from Governor Sununu (a longtime project supporter and Eversource donation recipient) and from the pro-Eversource Business and Industry Association. Eversource then filed a request for the Site Evaluation Committee to reconsider its “no” vote, claiming the committee hadn’t given them a fair shake and should consider new options for improving the project.

CLF strongly opposed Eversource’s request that the siting committee reconsider Northern Pass. We also urged the committee to reject Eversource’s eleventh-hour attempts to add new information to support its case – such as claims about how the project could be improved. Those changes, which amounted to little more than lipstick on a pig, anyway, were too little, too late. The project would still hurt the communities and economy of New Hampshire.

CLF and our partners – and the people of the Granite State – ultimately prevailed this month when the Site Evaluation Committee issued its final decision rejecting Northern Pass.

Northern Pass Will Likely Appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court

Even though Eversource lost this round, we cannot count them out. Eversource has vowed not to let the project go easily, despite continued widespread opposition. Eversource now has until August 13, 2018, to appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and we fully expect they will do so.

Northern Pass is already out of the running for a lucrative energy contract from Massachusetts. But Eversource is hoping that the project might appeal to another state, like Connecticut or Rhode Island – which is why they’re not giving up hope yet.

We will continue to oppose this poorly planned project until it is dropped for good. And we hope that you’ll continue to support us through what may be a lengthy appeals process at our state’s highest court. Stay tuned for more updates by signing up for our email alerts.

Katherine Rogers, Cavers law clerk, contributed to this blog post.

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