Massachusetts chooses central Maine as new route to rejected transmission line

Massachusetts utility regulators have decided on a clean energy alternative if the Northern Pass hydropower transmission line continues to be rejected by neighboring New Hampshire.

The state Department of Energy Resources in Massachusetts voted late last week to respond by choosing Central Maine’s Clean Energy Connect. This project would bring Canadian hydropower through Maine instead.

Massachusetts-based Eversource Energy had high hopes for doing the same thing via its Northern Pass line, but on February 1 New Hampshire regulators shot down the route through their state. The Northern Pass would take a long review to be overcome that rejection, but the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources wants to finalize a hydropower transmission contract by March 27.

“If contract negotiations are not successful with NPT (Northern Pass), the electric distribution companies are in a position to proceed with the next best project that satisfies the policy directives,” the Massachusetts regulator’s order read.

The state wants to achieve about 9.45 million MWh of clean energy, a goal that Northern Pass hoped to satisfy, according to reports. The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee voted 7-0 to shoot down the route through its state, citing it as an eyesore which will damage scenic views and tourism.

Eversource’s $1.6 billion planned line was only approved by Massachusetts regulators a month ago. The 192-mile Northern Pass, touted by officials as the largest procurement of renewable energy in state history, would bringing 1,200 MW of Quebec Hydropower from the Canadian border near Pittsburg, New Hampshire to a substation in Deerfield and then flow into Massachusetts through the regional grid.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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