Energy: What is the Northern Pass?

Northern Pass Transmission LLC (Northern Pass)

On December 15, 2010, Northern Pass Transmission LLC (Northern Pass) filed a transmission service agreement (TSA) and associated tariff sheets with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) pursuant to section 205 of the Federal Power Act* and Part 35 of FERC regulations.**  The TSA was executed on October 4, 2010, between Northern Pass and H.Q. Hydro Renewable Energy, Inc. for electric transmission service over a proposed transmission facility consisting of (i) a 185-mile high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line running from the Des Cantons Substation in Quebec, Canada over the U.S.-Canada border to a converter station to be constructed in Franklin, New Hampshire, and (ii) a 40-mile radial 345 kV alternating current (AC) transmission line between the Franklin converter station and the Public Service Company of New Hampshire Deerfield substation in the town of Deerfield, New Hampshire.  Approximately 140 miles of the HVDC line will run through the State of New Hampshire.

In addition to filing the TSA with FERC, Northern Pass has applied to the U.S. Department of Energy for a Presidential Permit to construct the proposed transmission facility across the U.S.-Canadian border.

At this time, nothing has been filed for review or approval with the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission or New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee.

Links to the TSA, the DOE website for the Northern Pass project, and the Northern Pass company website are provided below.

* 16 U.S.C. §824d (2006).
** 18 C.F.R. Pt. 35 (2010).


Project Overview

Northern Pass is a 192-mile transmission line project that will bring 1,090 megawatts (MW) of clean, affordable energy from Hydro-Québec’s world-class hydroelectric plants in Canada to New Hampshire and to the rest of New England.

To bring this energy to the region, the project will build a new direct current (DC) transmission line from the Canadian border to Franklin, NH, where a converter terminal will be built to convert the electricity from DC to alternating current (AC). From there, a new AC transmission line will carry the energy to an existing substation in Deerfield, NH and into New England’s electric grid.


Local Opposition to Northern Pass:

No To Northern Pass opposes the Northern Pass project in New Hampshire, a high-voltage electric transmission line that will impact almost 95,000 acres throughout the state. As a new voice for opponents of this project, we share the goals and views of many pre-existing organizations in the North Country, Granite State and beyond; that the Northern Pass project will have negative impacts and is a bad deal for New Hampshire’s residents.

This coalition is broad-based and is actively recruiting statewide sponsors and local partners to organize groups, associations, and citizens. Our mission is to examine the facts. The Northern Pass project is an unnecessary gamble New Hampshire can’t afford – we have a personal responsibility to act now, raise awareness, and make smart choices to protect New Hampshire’s future.



Northern Pass ads result in $540,000 penalty for radio station

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has reached a $540,000 settlement with the former owner of a New Hampshire country radio station that broadcast 178 commercial announcements supporting the Northern Pass project without identifying the sponsor.

The FCC says its settlement with Cumulus Media, former owner of Dover-based WOKQ, 97.5 FM, is the largest ever involving a single station for violating sponsor identification laws.

“Radio and television stations that are paid to air any announcements or other content are required to clearly disclose the payer’s identity,” FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc said. “While failure to disclose these identities generally misleads the public, it is particularly concerning when consumers are duped into supporting controversial environmental projects.”

The settlement resolved an investigation into whether WOKQ violated the FCC’s sponsorship identification rules. The station broadcast 178 announcements in support of the Northern Pass hydro-electric energy project without identifying the sponsor of those announcements, in this case Northern Pass Transmission LLC., a company with a financial interest in the project.


Understanding Northern Pass

When the towers were installed they came carried by helicopters. The thrumming sound of the 80-foot-tall, steel lattice pylons being positioned along the right-of-way was the first thing that many had heard of the new high-voltage transmission line connecting Canada to the New England electric market.

They hadn’t picked up on the controversy that had led developers to relocate a swath of the line in the North Country, and they hadn’t paid much attention to concerns that the region was getting too much of its electricity from a single source.

This is not a scene from a future in which the Northern Pass has been approved, stringing 187 miles of power lines between the population centers of New England and the massive hydro-power network of Quebec.

This was Hopkinton, New Hampshire, at the end of the 1980s.

“It was just days and days of them bringing these gigantic towers in, and I had no idea what was happening,” remembers Joanie McIntire, a Concord realtor who lived in Hopkinton at the time.

There are important differences between that power line — called Phase II, and owned by National Grid — and the very controversial Northern Pass, which Northeast Utilities, the parent company of Public Service of New Hampshire, has proposed. Much of the Phase II line was placed in between two existing ones, so the right-of-way didn’t need to be widened and most of its towers are somewhat shorter than the planned Northern Pass towers.


Eversource Energy modifies Northern Pass plans in New Hampshire

Officials with Hartford-based Eversource Energy said Tuesday that plans for the Northern Pass transmission line project in New Hampshire are being altered in a bid to gain approval for the plan.

Bill Quinlan, president of Eversource’s operations in New Hampshire, said the company’s latest plans call for burying more of the transmission cable than the eight miles it originally had proposed and running it under public roads in environmentally sensitive areas such as the White Mountain National Forest. Burying an additional 52 miles of transmission line will eliminate the need for more than 400 transmission towers, Quinlan said.

But burying more of the transmission line reduces the capacity of the project from 1,200 megawatts to 1,000 megawatts, said Martin Murray, an Eversource spokesman. That is a 20 percent reduction in the capacity of the project, Murray said.

“The plan we are announcing today represents a balanced solution, providing unique and significant benefits for New Hampshire, while helping the entire region address the acute need for new, clean energy resources,” Quinlan said during a press conference in Pittsfield, New Hampshire. “It’s not a question of whether we import hydro power from Canada. It’s a question of when and how.”

Connecticut and the rest of New England would benefit from Northern Pass, he said, because increasing the availability of hydro-electric power in the region will reduce the volatility in New England’s electricity prices that exists in part due to a lack of adequate natural gas supplies to fuel the region’s power plants. About 65 percent of the region’s power plants are fueled by natural gas.




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