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Massachusetts Approves Northern Pass

January 29, 2018

Last Thursday, Massachusetts gave preliminary approval to Eversource’s $1.6 billion Northern Pass proposal. Northern Pass would be the largest procurement of renewable energy in the history of Massachusetts. It was selected among bids submitted under the Global Warming Solutions Act, a law passed that was passed two years ago calling for a boost to the supply of renewable energy in Massachusetts. Under the proposal, Canadian hydropower will be delivered to Massachusetts via a 192-mile transmission line. The transmission line is proposed to run from Quebec to Pittsburg, New Hampshire and to a substation in Deerfield, New Hampshire. From there, it would flow into Massachusetts through the regional energy grid starting in 2020. Eversource said that more than 80 percent of the line would run underground or along existing transmission lines. This minimizes the impacts in or near the White Mountain National Forest.

Northern Pass was determined to provide the most value to the state’s electric customers. When completed, the transmission line is projected to provide 9.4 TWh annually, which amounts to 17 percent of the current electric load in Massachusetts. Contract negotiations for the project are expected to be completed by March 27 and sent to the Department of Public Utilities by April 25. According to a statement from Governor Charlie Baker’s office, the project, once completed, would boost Massachusetts’ electricity supply to almost 50 percent clean energy.

Despite these positives, Northern Pass has been met with significant local opposition over the years, mainly from environmental groups. Some of the opposition has come those who bemoan the fact that, under Northern Pass, the U.S. would be importing green energy instead of producing it within the country. Some of the opposition comes from those who fear that the transmission lines could detract from some of New Hampshire’s breathtaking views.