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Massachusetts Pulls Plug on $1.6 Billion Transmission Line Project

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Massachusetts on Wednesday dropped its plans for a $1.6 billion project that would have delivered hydropower from Canada to the state through a 192-mile transmission line in New Hampshire.
Massachusetts Pulls Plug on $1.6 Billion Transmission Line Project

In its announcement, the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said the state was opting out of the Northern Pass project proposed by Eversource Energy and the Canadian utility Hydro-Quebec, and instead is working toward a new agreement with New England Clean Energy Connect, a hydropower project proposed by Central Maine Power Co.

Peter Lorenz, the office’s communication director, said the decision continues Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration’s ‘‘commitment to execute clean energy procurements that ensure the Commonwealth is positioned to achieve a clean, affordable, and resilient energy future while progressing towards greenhouse gas reduction requirements.’’

Last month, regulators in New Hampshire voted to reject the Northern Pass project, citing concerns about its potential negative impacts to the environment and the state's tourism industry.

The project would have traversed the White Mountains, a mountain range covering about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine.

Because of its proximity to Boston, it is a major tourism region and home to, among other attractions, a state park, hiking trails, a scenic ravine and two amusement parks.

Eversource Energy asked state's site evaluation committee to reconsider, but the committee said it could not do so before May.

That effectively scuttled the Massachusetts agreement, because reconsideration would not come before the state's hard April 25 deadline for moving forward with a large-scale clean energy project mandated under a 2016 law.

The Central Maine Power Company, a subsidiary of Avangrid Inc, has said the $950 million New England Clean Energy Connect program will provide an above-ground link between the electrical grids in Quebec and New England.

The utility said it has already lined up strong support from government officials and business leaders in Maine. As a result, it believes it will receive state approvals for the project later this year and final federal permits in early 2019.

Despite the setback, Eversource said in a written statement that it will carry on with Northern Pass and argued that it was ‘‘the best project for the region and New Hampshire, and we intend to pursue all options for making it a reality.’’

But Jack Savage, a spokesman for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, which opposed the Northern Pass project, said "The likelihood of Northern Pass as proposed finding a path forward in New Hampshire is slim to none."

"Massachusetts came to the only logical conclusion, that Northern Pass won’t be built through New Hampshire, and isn’t an option going forward. The extension cord is now unplugged," Savage said.

MAP OF MAINE PROJECT

Tags: Hydro ,Grid ,Canada
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