Northern Pass plan clears another hurdle
Eversource Energy’s plans to build a 192-mile-long transmission line to bring hydropower from Quebec into New Hampshire got a boost Thursday from the region’s electric grid operator.
Holyoke, Massachusetts-based ISO-New England on Thursday determined that Eversource’s Northern Pass transmission project can reliably interconnect with the regional electric grid. The $1.6 billion project is designed to bring hydropower to portions of New England where demand for electricity is the highest
Eversource Energy officials called ISO-NE’s decision “a key regulatory approval” in a statement.
“ISO New England determined Northern Pass will not have a significant, adverse effect on the reliability or operating characteristics of the regional grid and its participants,” the statement read in part. “All energy projects must secure this approval in order to be connected to the New England grid.”
This not the first time Northern Pass has received interconnection approval. The project first received approval from ISO-NE in 2014, but needed to be recertified after Eversource Energy made changes to the project in terms of how much of the transmission line would be buried as well as the amount of electricity the project would deliver.
Northern Pass still must get myriad state and federal permits before construction of the transmission line can begin, according to Will Abbott, vice president for policy & reservation stewardship with the Society for Protection of New Hampshire Forests.
“While the ISO-NE certification is an essential hurdle for any merchant transmission line to clear, the largest set of hurdles for the Northern Pass project are still ahead,” Abbott said. “Eversource cannot proceed with the Northern Pass project and connect to the grid without a siting certificate from the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC). The SEC has at least 14 months of evidence gathering and hearings before making a decision.”
Joel Gordes, a West Hartford-based energy industry consultant, said the sheer length of the proposed transmission line makes it vulnerable to a variety of potential disruptions. From the point where the electricity will be produced in Canada to the end of the Northern Pass line, the electricity will have to travel about 900 miles, according to Gordes.