Northern Pass Update: Is there an "Acceptable Configuration"?
During its fourth quarter earnings call, newly-renamed Eversource (nee Northeast Utilities), reported that executives expect the U.S. Department of Energy to release a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the controversial Northern Pass project in April of this year. If that should occur (its arrival has been prematurely predicted many times before), then, says Eversource, they envision submitting an application to New Hampshire's Site Evaluation Committee by "mid-year" 2015. This prediction, too, represents additional delay.
As the Union Leader's Dave Solomon chronicled, Eversource also noted that they expect the projected $1.4 billion cost of the project to go up, though they were not ready to say by how much. Increased costs would be a result of changes to their proposal, based in part on findings in the EIS, that they hope will lead them to an "acceptable configuration" of the 187-mile transmission line. The Forest Society, which has opposed an overhead line and owns land and holds easements through which the line as proposed would pass, has said that if it is to be built Northern Pass should be buried in its entirety along transportation corridors. "There's a big range of options around that project that we’re evaluating right now," said Eversource's Lee Olivier.
Meanwhile, the competitive New England Clean Power Link transmission line proposed by TDI in Vermont, which would bring 1000MW into New England via a buried (and submerged) line may well leap frog Northern Pass. NECPL announced in December that it has submitted its application to the state of Vermont.