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Thread: FYI: Northern Pass High Voltage Transmission Project

  1. #466
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    Two firearm manufacturers, H&K is moving outright and Sig Sauer is either moving a production line or building a new one in the southeast. The NH BIA has had several recent new releases, heres one http://web.biaofnh.com/news/newsarti...?ArticleID=260. The reality is NH has shortage of labor in general and skilled labor in particular, southern states are willing to spend millions to entice manufacturers to relocate and train employees at no cost. The only thing that keeps most of Mass and southern NH are businesses who want access to well educated graduates of the regions schools. The days of smoke stack industries in the region are going away as other regions have lower costs.

    One of the many cost differences between New England and other parts of the country is that New England voluntarily elected to put in place the Regional Greenhouse Gas initiative (REGGI), it has a form of carbon trading at a power company level. This raises the overall costs of power in region and redistributes other costs amongst ratepayers. If you heard of the doomed EPA Clean Power Plan which was part of the US's approach to green house gases, the impact to New England was minimal compared to other parts of the country who didn't have a carbon initiative. Most New England states also have a renewable portfolio standard requiring a certain percentage of power used to be renewable. Renewable power is still at a substantial premium compared to fossil fuels when capacity factor is taken into account so New England States end up voluntarily taken on more costs to be greener than elsewhere. Coal is cheap but very high carbon emitting so areas of the country with lots of coal fired generation have cheaper power. Natural gas is also quite cheap in other parts of the country but due to not enough pipeline capacity into the region, its price can swing wildly as the demand exceeds the supply during very cold or very hot conditions. This drives up the overall costs of gas as the firms that use gas have to "hedge" in to cover times when there is gas shortage. The lack of adequate gas also impacts the overall power costs in the region as the regional grid operator has to pay firms to have generators ready to run when the gas plants cant keep up. These capacity payments also drive up the cost of power as other areas of the country don't do this. The risk is brown outs and forced load shedding (Texas has this problem when the wind stops blowing at the wrong time).

    NP does not in and off itself solve the issues out there. Hydro Quebec power is regarded as "brown hydro" that doesn't count as renewable due to the social and environmental costs of the Hydro Quebec hydro system. When VT shut down VT yankee they decided HQ was no longer brown, VT linke to trumpet their commitment to renewable power but right now the majority of it proposed up by HQ. Mass and CT currently also classify HQ as brown but are real close to calling it green and once they do, HQ power is far less expensive than most other renewables when capacity factor is taken into account. Capacity factor is how much of the nameplate of the facility is available at any given time. Solar has a low capacity factor as most plants only produce during daylight hours. Wind only generates when the wind is blowing so the capacity factor is much lower. HQ has no real environmental limits on how quickly they can drain their lake network so they can put 1000's of MWs on the grid in minutes. The only issue is some moron with a rifle can shoot an insulator on the power line somewhere between Northern Quebec and Boston and that source of power goes away instantly so the utilities in New England need local generation to back it up just in case which means more cost. Realistically the Champlain Connect Project is way ahead of NP. They already have permits in place so they will most likely be the first supplier of HQ to New England. Unlike HQ and Eversource ,who are in bed with each other, Champlain Express is separate entity that HQ cant control. Champlain Express is not a non profit and I expect that given the shortage of power in New England they will charge a premium for line capacity. Eversource is quite powerful in NH and I wouldn't be surprised if they are asking their friends in industry to chime in on the need for power. Eversource was one of the major contributors to the new NH governors inauguration and luckily the power lines are running one valley west of the Waterville valley so the Sununu's resort isn't impacted. Do note Pilgrim Nuclear and couple of other power plants in the region are scheduled to close in the next two years if not sooner so the drumbeat for NP will remain.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 01-20-2017 at 02:25 PM.

  2. #467
    Senior Member nartreb's Avatar
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    Just yesterday Sig Sauer won a huge ten-year contract to be the primary sidearm for the US Army. ($580 million is the official figure - that works out to about $2,000 per pistol !? Wow! ) What they've been telling the press is that those guns will be built in New Hampshire. (That could be true and they could be planning to move all their other US production elsewhere.)

  3. #468
    Senior Member Scubahhh's Avatar
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    This from the Berlin paper this morning.

    http://www.berlindailysun.com/newsx/...56e94-39581437

    A change in climate (pardon the pun!)?
    Add life to your years!

  4. #469
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    I found a bit more detail on the Sig Sauer move http://www.wmur.com/article/sig-saue...e-move/8533361

  5. #470
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    Les Otten's testimony re Northern Passes support and future support. Sure sounds like he was quite careful with his words.

    http://indepthnh.org/2017/01/23/bals...northern-pass/

    There were a couple of reports that Les had been strong arming local boards in non public session regarding their non support of NP. Nice of him to take such local interest in an area so far away from normal base of operations.

    The source of the article indepthnh.org is making Eversource unhappy. There a few if any real independent sources of news in the region as most of newspapers are ad driven fee papers, the journalists that remain do try hard but are very limited in their ability to chase down detailed news. Eversource has major support from many of the major news sources in southern NH and do not like it when news not tailored to the cause gets out.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 01-24-2017 at 08:17 AM.

  6. #471
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    I don't understand why it would matter whether there was a quid pro quo anyway. It makes perfect sense to support something that will save your business $200,000/year and, oh, there was a relatively small grant (compared to the numbers we're talking about here) to seed the project. From where I sit, there seem to be a lot of sidebars to this project that have more to do with generating PR and legal fees than they have to do with the merit, which is mostly environmental effects, of the project. In that regard there must be acceptance of some compromise on burial or aerial; hydro from Quebec is cleaner and safer than feasible alternatives. In the end ratepayers will pay and, absent this project, consumers and employers may well be facing brownouts without adequate sources of power. I'd suggest each side quit the circus, bite the bullet and move forward.

  7. #472
    Senior Member Scubahhh's Avatar
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    Sounds to me like Otten is comfortably on their payroll and in their bed:
    “Was anything else provided to the Balsams conditioned upon your support?” Manzelli asked.

    Otten responded: “There are no other documents that I’m going to discuss or talk about at this juncture and I do not feel I need to support Northern Pass for any reason other than I believe it’s beneficial to me and my business.”


    With our old pals the Sununus back in Concord and Trump & Co. in The White House, they can go ahead and start putting up the poles. It'll surprise me if they actually even bury the lines through WMNF.
    Add life to your years!

  8. #473
    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    In the end ratepayers will pay and, absent this project, consumers and employers may well be facing brownouts without adequate sources of power.
    The way I'm seeing the setup, in the end New Hampshire ratepayers will pay, and, absent this project, Massachusetts consumers and employers may be facing brownouts, given Mass's (admirable) goals for clean(er) power. I don't want to make Mass The Bad Guy here--we're an interconnected region--but the whole business stinks pretty bad that the people taking the impacts and the people reaping the benefits are pretty widely separated. Mind, I drank Quabbin water for seven years, so I ain't perfect.

  9. #474
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    The current financial model of Northern Pass is what is called a merchant project. The owners of the line make a deal to sell the power at whatever rate the market will bear. Therefore the consumer of the power in theory pays the price for the line. Unfortunately in order to up their profit on the deal, Eversource is ripping off the ratepayer by getting creative with lease payments of the right of way. Eversource bought the vast majority of the right of way under eminent domain and with rate payer money. The deal with this type of transaction is that in exchange for using rate payer money, the utility can only make an agreed upon profit. What Eversource is doing is vastly underestimating the value of this ratepayer purchased land and leasing it to a separate Eversource entity that is not regulated. The non regulated Eversource entity makes the profit working with HQ and the ratepayer ends up losing out on the deal. There is much broader argument that the visible impact of the project puts untold burdens upon the folks who live along the right of ways. to date NP has not offered to pay adjoining property owners for visual impacts. Given the scope of the project I don't see that happening. There are no studies I am aware of showing the current impact of NP. Realtors like Peter Pratt in Lancaster has reported that he has many properties that are not selling or have been pulled off the market because buyers are not interested once they hear about the potential impact. I have run into more than a few properties listed in the region where the selling broker conveniently forgets to list potential NP impacts. The locals know but they are hoping to hook a sucker from down south who is looking for a retirement dream.

    The alternative approach is a regulated project. There have been several major projects in New England of late like the major transmission line upgrade in Maine that gets footed by everyone paying for power on the grid. There is a lot of pushback currently against the grid operator as the fees (called T&D Transmission and Distribution) for this major work are increasing significantly, far faster than the actual cost for power.

    Fundamentally everyone wants power when they want it but they don't want to pay for the infrastructure to get to their house when they need it. Industry can and does threaten to move but it all comes down to what is the fair distribution for these fixed costs.

    One of the great experiments soon to come to roost was the shift to privatizing power generation. The utilities no longer own the power plants they just move the electrons around. Private firms rushed into the market to make a killing like a little known public utility ultimately named Enron rushed into the private power business. This has not been a great success and many companies have sold their assets to less secure entities. Many have decided that they would rather buy an existing power plant then take a chance to build a new plant. Its highly unlikely that brownouts will occur in New England unless the transmission system is damaged as there are quite a few oil fired jet turbines in the region spread around that can produce power if needed. The trade off is they are in demand and the price of power is quite high, they also are very inefficient. For those familiar with the Portland area there is large oil fired power plant at Cousins Island in Yarmouth. It burns a low grade fuel oil and is not particularly clean. It will just crank up more often as other plants drop off the grid.

  10. #475
    Senior Member Vermonster's Avatar
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    And the nasty fight continues...
    Northern Pass Asks Forest Society Who Donated To Oppose the Project

    Northern Pass’ data request No. 5 asks the forest society to: “Provide a list of donations that were made by energy companies or power generators, and others, that were made for the specific purpose of opposing Northern Pass.”

    And to make sure it didn’t escape the attention of the press, a group called the New Hampshire Coalition for Secure Energy tweeted the requests with No. 5 circled in red to a handful of reporters, including InDepthNH.org, and the Business and Industry Association.

    http://indepthnh.org/2017/01/25/35677/

  11. #476
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Going to take a lot of inefficient polluters to make up for Pilgrim.

  12. #477
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    Pilgrim is pretty small for a nuke, 685 MW. The current peaker plant of choice is the GE LMS 100 which is a 100 MW unit. Unlike a nuke it can go from cold to full output in 10 minutes. Just needs a big tank of distillate fuel next to it. They are relatively cheap to buy and install. The peakers are usually deployed at old power plant sites that have good grid connections. The preference is to have access to natural gas in addition to distillate. I wouldn't be surprised if the Pilgrim site ends up with some generation after it closes since the grid infrastructure is already in place. The VT Yankee site was proposed for new generation but the gas pipeline proposed to run near there isn't happening.

  13. #478
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    Resolution for one of the SPNHF side issues in NPs favor.

    http://www.unionleader.com/article/2...WS21/170209920

    The VT newscasts this morning led off with headline that the court gave NP the go ahead to start the project. It was bit premature considering the SEC process has long way to go

  14. #479
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    SPNHF has a different view of the recent ruling

    https://forestsociety.org/blog-post/...sue-unresolved

  15. #480
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    Skimming this case quickly, the SPNHF response looks like typical spin by a losing party (both sides guilty of spin no doubt). The fact is that SPNHF did not succeed in the present case, which was to obtain an adjudication today that the proposed NP underground line would (1) per se exceed the scope of the highway easement, thereby requiring the consent of SPNHF, and (2) result in inverse condemnation. Inverse condemnation is related to the eminent domain concept, except that rather than the govt taking your land through an ED process, the govt permits some use of your land that you believe substantially diminishes its value or use such that you seek compensation from the govt. In any event, in reaching its conclusion, the court noted that an underground utility is, as a matter of law, within the scope of “use” of a public highway easement and that the NHDOT has the exclusive authority to determine whether to allow a particular proposed underground utility within the easement. Thus, SPNHF sought a determination by the court that NP's proposed use of the easement would per se exceed the easement such that DOT wouldn't even be permitted as a matter of law to approve NP's proposed use. SPNHF lost on that claim and the law seems crystal clear such that the claim appears to have been merely a delay tactic. The court went further to state that if the DOT were to approve the NP proposal in the future, then at that time the court could be called upon to adjudicate whether that decision would be tantamount to inverse condemnation. The court noted that in connection with SPNHF's inverse condemnation claim, which wasn’t ripe yet, SPNHF offered no evidence that that NP’s proposed use would specifically harm its property, so it will be interesting to see how SPNHF addresses this next time. SPNHF will get another bite at the apple if the DOT approves the NP plan, but to be clear SPNHF lost the current battle aimed at preventing NP from using the highway easement at all.

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