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N.H. Denies M.A. Northern Pass—But Just a Temporary Setback?

February 2, 2018

On Thursday, the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) denied an essential state permit to Northern Pass Transmission, a $1.6 billion Eversource project that would deliver Canadian hydropower to Massachusetts via a 192-mile transmission line. Massachusetts gave preliminary approval to the project as recently as last week. The committee argued the project failed to show that the project would not impact property values, tourism, land use, and the like.

The committee’s denial might appear to call the future of Northern Pass into question. When Massachusetts granted approval of Northern Pass, Eversource had said that the project would be running by 2020. The New Hampshire decision also might appear to raise questions about this 2020 deadline and invites a reconsideration of the project. Eversource, however, has the option to appeal the New Hampshire decision to the state’s highest court. And, based on the makeup of the project, Eversource is in a good position to win its appeal and move forward with the project. In that case, the New Hampshire decision would prove to be just a temporary setback. The statement Eversource issued after the decision suggests that it will appeal:

“We are shocked and outraged by today’s SEC outcome. The process failed to comply with New Hampshire law and did not reflect the substantial evidence on the record. As a result, the most viable near-term solution to the region’s energy challenges, as well as $3 billion of NH job, tax, and other benefits, are now in jeopardy. Clearly, the SEC process is broken and this decision sends a chilling message to any energy project contemplating development in the Granite State. We will be seeking reconsideration of the SEC’s decision, as well as reviewing all options for moving this critical clean energy project forward.”