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Thread: FYI: Northern Pass High Voltage Transmission Project

  1. #481
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    https://forestsociety.org/blog-post/...-northern-pass

    There has been a lot of back and forth on this in the press, NP and HQ insists that nothing has changed. Realistically this is just public theatrics while the SEC hearings progress.

    The far bigger potential project change is Mass finally issuing a Request For Proposals for 1200 MW of "Clean Canadian Hydro" (basically a big "Not in My Backyard" response on a continental wide basis). NP has referenced that they are very interested when this RFP comes out and others have suggested that it will completely change to economics of the NP project.

  2. #482
    Senior Member Vermonster's Avatar
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    I don't claim to fully understand this ruling...and I am sure that Eversource will appeal...but it seems to me the supposed cost savings of supplying HQ power to NH came with a pretty big BUT as the NH ratepayers look to be on the hook for any losses (via stranded cost recovery mechanism).

    PUC dismisses Eversource petition for deal with HydroQuebec

    By PAUL FEELY
    New Hampshire Union Leader

    CONCORD — The state’s Public Utilities Commission on Monday ruled against a petition filed last June by Eversource seeking approval of a proposed 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with Hydro Renewable Energy, after determining the proposal is “inconsistent with New Hampshire law.”

    Eversource announced in June 2016 it had reached an agreement with HydroQuebec (HQ) guaranteeing at least 100 megawatts from the proposed Northern Pass project would be available to New Hampshire consumers at lower-than-market prices.

    Eversource cited the possibility of a power purchase agreement (PPA) with HQ as one of the benefits of the controversial transmission project, that would run 192 miles from the Canadian border to Deerfield.

    Under the terms of the proposed PPA, Hydro Renewable Energy would sell, and Eversource would buy, approximately 100 megawatts of on-peak electric energy delivered to Eversource’s Deerfield Substation over the proposed Northern Pass transmission line. This energy would then be resold into the ISO-New England wholesale energy market by Eversource. Under the terms of Eversource’s proposal, net gains or losses from the purchase and subsequent resale of the energy would be accounted for through the Stranded Cost Recovery Charge (SCRC) rate.

    Full article:
    http://www.unionleader.com/energy/PU...-deal-03282017

  3. #483
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    http://www.unionleader.com/energy/No...oject-03292017

    Interesting to note the comment that NP is the most uncertain of all three projects. The other interesting point is that the HQ transmission line is less than 4 miles away from the PSNH right of way in the Franklin area. Considering that the transmission lines were both designed to bring power to southern New England, the HQ line upgrade from the border to Frnaklin could be used to skip most of the destructive aspects of NP. By splitting the power between the PSNH and the National Grid lines, both utilities would get a taste of the project and the needed upgrades to two lines would be less than on one line. Unfortunately I expect this is game of checkers between two huge corporations and I expect they are unwilling to play well together. Eversource's CEO has staked his personal credibility multiple times over several years that NP is going to go and expect his board and investors would not treat him well over what will be massive write off of costs if NP goes down the drain. At a minimum I expect Eversource NH is going to have lot of new faces.

  4. #484
    Senior Member Jazzbo's Avatar
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    George Sansoucy Pre-file testimony to SEC discusses this under-utilized other corridor of which Eversource is 33% part owner. I highly recommend reading his testimony. It is clear and well written. Maybe this testimony is what woke up National Grid and HQ to this far better alternative to meet this public need. Current Eversource top dog deserves to be sacked for wasting his company's reputation and resources and generating so much public discord.

    This is just one small extract of Northern Pass Transmission Project Pre-filed Direct Testimony of George E. Sansoucy. I highly recommend digging this up and reading the rest. I see no harm in posting this here as it matter of public record.

    Q 13. What is your conclusion regarding the need for Northern Pass at this time?

    A 13. My overall conclusion is that Northern Pass is not needed at this time. It faces competition from other import lines from Canada through Maine, Vermont, and New York (Lake Champlain), and is redundant to an already existing DC Hydro Quebec transmission line in New Hampshire found in Exhibit 4. The facts surrounding this application, when weighed against the disruption Northern Pass is and will cause in New Hampshire, do not warrant the negative impacts that Northern Pass will have on the state.

    Q 14. Do you believe that these SEC hearings and this proposal is even necessary at this time?

    A 14. No. I do not. The SEC should terminate these hearings at this time and should request that the company file a full blown explanation why it cannot use the existing high voltage DC Hydro Quebec Phase 2 corridor through the state of New Hampshire. There is no reason to open a new high voltage corridor proposed by Northern Pass through the state when one already exists.

    Q 15. What do you believe the SEC should do?

    A 15. If Eversource wants to continue to propose Northern Pass, the SEC should open a new proceeding forcing Eversource to analyze the use of the existing Hydro Quebec Phase 2 corridor of which it owns 33.71% of the existing line, and forcing National Grid, the majority owner of Hydro Quebec Phase 2, and Northeast Utilities the minority owner of Hydro Quebec Phase 2 to explain why they will not use a that they both currently jointly own and explain whether or not Hydro Quebec Phase 2 is fully used and useful at this time.

    Q 16. Who owns the majority of the Hydro Quebec DC line at this time in New Hampshire?

    A 16. National Grid, the owner of New England Power Company owns 53.7% of the existing 450,000 volt DC line in New Hampshire. Eversource owns 33.71% of the DC line. National Grid, through the ownership of New England Power Company, its subsidiary owns the underlying right-of-way.

    Q 17. What do you believe the two jurisdictional companies should do in the state of New Hampshire?

    A 17. As stated previously, the creation of a second DC corridor in New Hampshire makes no sense at this time, and has not made sense since from the beginning of this proposal from Northern Pass. The existing Hydro Quebec Phase 2 corridor is generally 350 feet wide its entire distance from Monroe, NH to Hudson, NH. There exists the new 450,000 volt DC, 2000 MW line, as shown in Exhibit 4, in the corridor, and there exists the original 1930 construction of 690 MW of twin 230,000 volt AC lines that deliver hydroelectric power to Massachusetts from Fifteen Mile Falls. There is no reason that the twin 230s cannot be rebuilt into one double circuit 230, thereby opening up one third of this right-of-way for a complete transmission line of 1,090 MW for Northern Pass, either above or below ground. This would constitute an efficient use of the resource, an efficient use of the right-of-way, and a moderate expansion of the visual impact that already exists, and an efficient implementation of new rate base only when Northern Pass is actually needed.

    Q 18. When you say “only when Northern Pass is needed”, what are you referring to?

    A 18. It is not clear from National Grid’s reporting, but highly likely, that even Hydro Quebec Phase 2 at 2000 MW of capacity is not flowing full and maximized for its use in New England at this time.

    Q 19. Do you believe that the state of New Hampshire would, for all practical purposes, need to order this consideration under the circumstances should Eversource want to continue the Northern Pass proposal?

    A 19. Yes. It is impossible to understand why Eversource has attempted to develop a new highly controversial corridor through northern New Hampshire for a nearly identical line as Hydro Quebec Phase 2 when it already owns a portion of the Phase 2 line located in an existing state-wide electric corridor. I would imagine Eversource will have a multitude of excuses for not seriously considering this option, but it is an option that would be superior to the construction of Northern Pass as proposed at this time.

    Q 20. How could the state of New Hampshire order this marriage?

    A 20. I believe the state ultimately would have the right, if necessary, to seize by eminent domain the right-of-way corridor and thereby enable the marriage of the existing line and the proposed line, both from Hydro Quebec. In this instance, time is on the side of the state of New Hampshire as Northern Pass is not yet needed.
    Last edited by Jazzbo; 03-29-2017 at 10:01 PM.
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  5. #485
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    The ownership arrangement would definitely be a disadvantage to NP as a big part of the profit would come from renting right of ways previously paid for by the ratepayers at a much higher cost than they were going to pay the ratepayers for use. I expect Hydro Quebec is definitely looking over their options and perhaps the Mass RFP will accelerate NP going away.

    Of course the Champlain Express line got permitted quickly as they had been courting the state of VT and many NGOs in the state, if NG tries to widen the line through the Northeast Kingdom of VT and the stretch to where the right of way widens out without suitable discourse (and occasional big checks), it could rapidly become a similar contested project. Unlike NH which advocates fast track permitting, VT has the infamous act 250 and several other acts that can be used to delay major projects sometime for years. The Walmart Project in the Northeast Kingdom took over 10 years to get a act 250 permit.

    Politically this will be unpopular in NH as many politicians are on the dole from Eversource, more importantly a lot of rural towns were looking forward to getting big property tax checks for the new right of ways and many local contractors were planning on supporting the NP construction as their last project before retirement. There will still be work in some areas but much of the rural work will shift west into VT.

  6. #486
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    Lots of details in Colebrook Chronicle http://www.colebrookchronicle.com/March312017.pdf. The article reveals a potential key player, Joe Kennedy and Citizens Energy "who has pledged half their profits to fund energy assistance programs for Me NH and VT". Kind of blows the door off the NP offer to finance 200 million of yet to be named (except Balsams) economic projects in northern NH.

  7. #487
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    The start of the formal SEC hearing is next week for Northern Pass. I expect its going to substantially increase the volume of news coming out of the project.

    The senate has resurrected the attempt at allowing Eversource to sign a long term power contract purchasing a portion of the NP capacity. This had been specifically no allowed in a prior law so they amended the law.

  8. #488
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    Eversource is optimistic that construction will start in 2018

    https://www.rtoinsider.com/eversourc...arnings-42650/

    Of course the conference calls early on were predicting 2016

  9. #489
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Eversource is optimistic that construction will start in 2018
    This article on "covert" land purchases by Eversource shell LLCs raises a question. Why?

    What might their motivation be to obfuscate land acquisitions?

    cb
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  10. #490
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    Hi Chris, during the acquisition period in the north country one of the strategies of the opposition to NP was to push the neighbor against neighbor approach in opposing acquisitions. Anyone thought to be dealing with NP was regarded as a potential traitor to the region. The various opposition groups tried to tell their donors and supporters downstate that they weren't trying to stoke up this opposition but that was mostly for out of the region consumption. People from downstate just don't realize the sums of money being thrown around during the right of way acquisition and the lengths that NP would go to buy favor of cash poor land rich rural residents. NP or companies controlled by NP reportedly had several regionally influential employees and consultants whose entire job was to get into the door of landowners targeted for a right of way. The former VP of the Berlin Gorham mills reportedly was on board with NP (or one of their entities) and may still be and he was very careful to go underground and not be associated with NP in public to preserve his ability to negotiate with skittish landowners and local politicians. There are many stories of landowners getting multiple unrequested solicitations from entities that were very careful to disavow any linkage to NP. I expect both sides of the deal could figure out why large amounts were being offered, it just was a convenient way to get in the door. Once in the door, the goal was to assuage the possible guilt of the landowner of potentially selling out and one of the methods was to sell through shell entities. I expect these shell entities got rewarded handsomely for their efforts. NP reported recently that they have spent $197 million to date on the project and that's long before a couple of key permits are in hand so a few hundred thousand here and there really doesn't make a dent.

    One thing that I still am not clear on is what side of Eversource actually has bought the right of ways?. Is it the regulated side of the company which effectively means the ratepayers are paying these inflated prices? Or is it the non regulated merchant side of NP making the purchases? There is a big difference in that its already been established that Eversource is inflating the merchant side revenue by leveraging ratepayer financed right of ways. The trick is that the regulated side will rent the rights to the right of ways to the merchant side at a low cost which minimizes revenue to the ratepayer from the project while then turning around and charging much higher costs to the merchant side that flows to the rates that NP charges HQ.

    SPHNF was the lead in opposition to NP in the north country, they also were playing the big bucks land acquisitions checker game. They were quite successful and Eversource ended up paying very high prices for parcels that got blocked by SPNHF efforts which are now of no use to Eversource. As SPNHF had far fewer assets to throw at the game they had to work smart and one of the things they did were to follow public records and try to anticipate future moves by Eversource. I expect the LLCs were an effort to delay the transparency of financial transactions. Note that in addition to Eversource making outright payments they also had to make other potentially costly deals that ultimately may cost the ratepayers money. They reportedly had to give guarantees to Bayroot (owned by the Yale University retirement fund hidden behind shell entities) that the northern NH grid would be upgraded to allow additional export capacity to allow another large wind farm north of Dixville Notch. And of course the inadvertently revealed linkage to the initial and future financing of the Balsams project. There was also attempt at buying the favor of the Ride The Wilds ATV network which entailed a large up front payment and transfer of many of the dead ended/surplus Eversource properties (some including camps and homes) and continuing substantial payments to the RTW group. That one backfired when it was revealed that one of the founders and lead director of RTW group was dealing on behalf of RTW without authorization and was thrown out as it turned out that some portion of the landowners whose land the RTW network crossed were not NP supporters.

    It may not be a Jack Nicolson movie (Chinatown) but I expect when the dust settles on the project that someone could write a book or at least an extensive business case on the wheeling and dealing used to get the rathr serpentine right of way established through Northern NH . The beginnings of the outline is already in the public record of the SEC.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 05-09-2017 at 11:14 AM.

  11. #491
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    The start of the formal SEC hearing is next week for Northern Pass. I expect its going to substantially increase the volume of news coming out of the project.

    The senate has resurrected the attempt at allowing Eversource to sign a long term power contract purchasing a portion of the NP capacity. This had been specifically no allowed in a prior law so they amended the law.
    My committee in the House retained SB128, the bill that you refer to. It is dead until next January at the earliest, and the SEC will decides NP's fate long before then.

  12. #492
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    Yale University getting flack for land managment of the Bayroot properties

    A locally known "secret" that really hasn't gotten a lot of publicity is the Bayroot ownership of a large block of forest land in Northern NH and Western Maine. This holding was purchased from Mead corporation when Mead was cashing out the Rumford mills. The land consists of the former Oxford Paper lands located around the Rumford mill and much of the former Maine Brown Company Timberlands that were cashed out at one point by James River to Mead. When Mead sold the lands it was to a mysterious entity called Bayroot which then handed management over to Wagner woodlands.

    SPNHF had successfully blocked NP until Bayroot stepped up and offered a right of way through their large timber holding. Reportedly Bayroot extracted an agreement from NP that will allow the construction of another large wind farm larger than the Granite Wind project in Millsfield and Dummer NH north of Dixville notch in return for the right of way.

    Given the size of the land holding and the potential for development of high value properties, the conservation community ran into a road block soon after the original sale that the Bayroot ownership was effectively hidden behind a series of holding companies and the actual owners could not be determined. Soon after the switch over to management by Wagner, high value properties formerly associated with the timber ownership started getting transferred to new owners, some public some private. The sales generally were not publicized and were always direct sales. There was also a major uptick in wood harvesting. The forestry community is fairly small and the individuals involved with it are somewhat mobile and talk to each other. Fairly early in the process it was established that the new owners had set an unsustainable rate of return on the timberlands. Generally when this happens the woods are managed aggressively (cut aggressively) for return and then high value properties are sold to make up the difference in rate of return. Conservation groups have to tread pretty carefully as they have their own shopping list of conservation lands and since these were unadvertised private sales they do not want to get blacklisted from sales. This is a pretty standard practice for commercial developers. Eventually after a few years it was established that the actual owner was the Yale University retirement fund, apparently the Yale fund had previously owned timberland openly and had problems where the Yale retirement funds management practices of the lands didn't line up with Yale School of Forestry recommendations. The Bayroot purchase appears to have been the solution for Yale retirement fund to get an unsustainable rate of return on properties without adverse publicity and the NP deal is just another step in that direction.

    As the years go on the veil is slowly dropping

    http://www.nhregister.com/general-ne...n-pass-project
    Last edited by peakbagger; 05-12-2017 at 08:49 AM.

  13. #493
    Senior Member Barkingcat's Avatar
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    (Thank you for this information and for keeping folks in the loop about this.)

  14. #494
    Senior Member Vermonster's Avatar
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    Link seems to have gone dead. Try this one or going to indepthNH.org and looking for the article there: http://www.nhregister.com/general-ne...#disqus_thread

    For those that are wondering the relevance to hiking:
    Rice and Cave are both directly affected by NP.
    Based on test tower locations it is likely additional 3K's Tucker West, Blue Ridge, and Crystal North would be directly impacted by the proposed wind development. Crystal NW and Pisgah would also have very clear visual impact.

  15. #495
    Senior Member Grey J's Avatar
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    I noticed the NH dateline on this AP article in my local paper and sure enough, down around paragraph 8 they mention Eversource as one of the sponsors of the study.
    I bet you did not know that powerlines are good for birds.

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