Massachusetts and its largest electric utilities on March 28 rejected the $1.6-billion Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission project in favor of a Central Maine Power Co. proposal announced last month.
Massachusetts had preferred Eversource Energy’s 192-mile Northern Pass plan, but the project was rejected by New Hampshire’s energy-infrastructure siting board on Feb. 1.
The $950-million New England Clean Energy Connect project includes a 1,200-MW transmission line linking Quebec and New England via a 145-mile path through western Maine, according to Central Maine Power. The proposal was a joint bid with Hydro Quebec for a 20-year contract.
The Maine project expects to receive state approvals later this year and final federal permits in early 2019. Construction will start in the second or third quarter of the year, according to Central Maine Power.
The decision supports “the Baker-Polito administration’s commitment to execute clean energy procurements … while progressing toward greenhouse gas reduction requirements,” says a spokesman for Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs. A spokeswoman for the Sierra Club says the Maine project carries many of the same problems as the Northern Pass project, including increased electricity costs and destruction of traditional hunting and fishing grounds of First Nations in Quebec from dam flooding. Ninety miles of the proposed corridor is an existing right-of-way, but the remaining 50 miles will be a greenfield.
The club recommends choosing new wind and solar projects in New England that offered competitive bids.
An Eversource spokesman said the firm had invested $277 million in the Northern Pass as of Dec 31. “Despite recent delays, we … intend to pursue all options for making it a reality,” notes a statement on the Northern Pass website.