The Northern Pass Project Has Become a Dinosaur and Should Be Rejected

Melissa Birchard

It’s been years since CLF first launched its opposition to Eversource Energy’s proposed Northern Pass transmission line, which would bisect the state of New Hampshire from north to south to bring Canadian hydroelectric power to southern New England. In fact, it’s been eight long years.

Northern Pass Faces Competition From Other Projects

In that time, other competing projects have popped up across the region. Among them, there’s the TDI Clean Power Link project, which would run underground in Vermont and has cleared its regulatory hurdles (unlike the Northern Pass project, which has neither state nor federal approvals). There’s also a project that Eversource itself proposed last year called Clean Energy Connect. This project proposed to tie a certain amount of hydroelectric power to clean wind to offer a balanced energy mix that would help guarantee reliability. Most recently, there’s the new project that National Grid has aired, Granite State Power Link, which plans to use existing transmission lines in New Hampshire to bring Canadian hydropower – and possibly wind power – to New England, rather than building new lines through pristine areas.

Local Clean Energy Resources Are on the Rise

Even better, in the years since Northern Pass was first proposed, we’ve seen energy efficiency and rooftop solar turn a projected region-wide deficit of energy capacity into a surplus. Renewable energy facilities of all types have sprung up like wildflowers across the region to provide us with clean, cheap energy made right here in New England. And now we’ve even seen the nation’s first offshore wind farm rise up on the horizon, right off the coast of Rhode Island.

On top of that, we’ve also seen wholesale electricity prices dropping year after year after year, making Northern Pass’s promises emptier and emptier.

Northern Pass Doesn’t Serve New England’s Current or Future Needs

What hasn’t changed throughout all this time? The proposed Northern Pass project. Eversource Energy and Hydro-Québec still want to build 192 miles of transmission lines right through some of New Hampshire’s most iconic scenery and small communities. The project aims to shuttle 1,090 megawatts of arguably unneeded electricity from Canada to southern New England, while profoundly affecting New Hampshire’s landscapes and people. The project would also put local, clean renewables at risk throughout the region, hurting local economies that would otherwise benefit from the jobs renewable energy sources could bring.

Hearings have now begun at the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee to determine whether Northern Pass can be sited and constructed. To pass, the Committee has to decide that the project is in the public interest.

Was Northern Pass in the public interest back when the concept for the transmission line was first proposed? If it had come online back in 2009, the project might have helped lower electricity prices and cut carbon pollution for a while (since energy prices were higher then and coal was generally still the cheapest energy source). However, it still would have bisected our state and damaged pristine areas.

But now, in effect, we’ve had the benefit of seeing the future. And what we’ve seen is that the future is clean, locally sited renewable energy — that saves us money on our bills and keeps our skies and waters clean and safe. Northern Pass isn’t designed to serve the public interest; it’s designed to maximize profit by cutting corners over its competitors.

You Can Help Shape the Future of New Hampshire Energy

As the hearings at the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee proceed, CLF will be letting the committee know that the Northern Pass proposal is now a dinosaur, not an energy innovation. We hope you’ll continue to stand with us as we fight both at the state level and the federal level to get the Northern Pass project stamped “REJECTED.”

You can tell the Site Evaluation Committee how you feel about Northern Pass by submitting written comments to Administrator Pamela Monroe at Pamela.Monroe@sec.nh.gov, or letting Administrator Monroe know you’d like to deliver oral comments at an upcoming public hearing.

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