Competition for Northern Pass?

Mar 29, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

Another New England electricity provider has proposed a transmission line to carry hydropower from Quebec through New Hampshire.

The proposal, titled Granite State Power Link, bears some marked similarities to the Northern Pass proposal. 

Granite State Power Link would carry roughly 1,200 megawatts of power from hydroelectric dams in Quebec at a price of roughly $1 billion.  The Northern Pass would carry roughly 1,100 megawatts from Quebec at a price of roughly $1.6 billion.

The important difference is the route.  Granite State Power Link would start in Monroe, New Hampshire, and use existing transmission towers on a route south to Londonderry.  Northern Pass would start in Pittsburg and travel through the North Country, including the construction of some new transmission towers.

The construction of new towers in the North Country has generated criticism about the environmental and aesthetic impacts of the project.  Northern Pass has responded by offering to bury 60 miles of transmission lines underground and to create a $200 million fund for economic development in northern New Hampshire.

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, an opponent of the Northern Pass, believes Granite State Power Link is probably a good alternative to the Northern Pass.

“It’s always good to wait and take a close look at what it means on the ground, and what it means in particular communities, and we’ll be doing that as we learn more about the project,” Jack Savage, Vice President for the Society, told NHPR. “But this is, from our perspective, clearly an alternative to Northern Pass and would seem to have many advantages to it.” 

Northern Pass advocates see Granite State Power Link as complementary, not competitive.

“ISO New England has stated that new transmission infrastructure will be necessary to reach clean energy sources, and warned that we will need to address a loss of more than 4,000 megawatts of electric capacity in the immediate future. Northern Pass and the proposed Granite State Power Link both represent a significant step toward a more secure energy future,” said Martin Murray, a spokesman for Eversource, the company backing Northern Pass. 

The Granite State Power Link proposal comes from National Grid, which provides natural gas and electricity in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York.  The proposal must get approval from state regulators.  The earliest the project would finish is 2022.

Do you have an opinion on Granite State Power Link or Northern Pass?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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