Transmission project advances to next stage in Mass. solicitation

The Northern Pass Transmission Line Project, a 192-mile transmission system that will deliver 1,090 megawatts of hydropower from Quebec, Canada to Deerfield, New Hampshire, has been chosen by Massachusetts to advance to contract negotiations under a procurement issued last year.

The solicitation process was the result of a law passed in 2016 by the Massachusetts Legislature to provide new sources of clean energy by 2020.

A March 2017 request for proposals sought long-term contracts for “clean energy” projects. The RFP defined “clean energy generation” as either: (1) firm service hydroelectric generation from hydroelectric generation alone; (2) new Class I renewable portfolio standard eligible resources that are firmed up with firm service hydroelectric generation, or (3) new Class I RPS eligible resources.

In the RFP, investor-owned utilities in the state, in coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, collectively sought proposals for incremental clean energy generation and associated environmental attributes and/or renewable energy credits “under cost-effective long-term contracts.” The solicitation sought approximately 9,450,000 MWh per year, which represents approximately 17 percent of Massachusetts’s total annual electric load.

The Northern Pass Transmission Line Project was one of dozens of projects proposed in response to the solicitation. The Massachusetts DER said that the clean energy resources that provided proposals under the solicitation included baseload hydropower, onshore wind and solar supported by hydropower, standalone onshore wind, solar, and other Class I renewable resources.

The Northern Pass Transmission Line Project bid was submitted by Eversource and Hydro-Québec. The hydropower to be delivered by the project to New England’s power grid will come from Hydro-Québec’s hydroelectric plants.

A Jan. 25 news release from the Massachusetts government said that the final acceptance of the bid and award of contract is conditional upon successful contract negotiations between the parties and regulatory approval from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.

At the time of contract filing with the DPU, a public report will be provided by the soliciting parties that details the evaluation process.

Separately, an independent evaluator will prepare a detailed public report on the evaluation process and outcome and whether the evaluation was conducted in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner.

If the bid selected to advance to contract negotiation at this stage does not successfully negotiate contracts, it may result in another bid or bids being selected to advance to contract negotiations.

Final project selection as a result of successful contract negotiation will be made public following submittal for regulatory approval, which is expected to be by April 25, 2018.

In a Jan. 25 news release, Eversource said that the project is expected to receive all state and federal permits by early 2018.

The Province of Québec recently announced that it has granted Hydro Quebec a permit to construct the hydroelectric transmission line that will connect with Northern Pass at the U.S. border. All major contractor and equipment contracts are fully executed to begin construction by mid–2018, Eversource said.

Additional details about the Northern Pass project are available here.