Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More from Mr. Muntz et al.

Testimonies, with Translations for Concerned Citizens

Excerpts from the prepared testimonies of Messrs. James A. Muntz, Northern Pass, Michael Ausere, Northeast Utilities, and Geoffrey Lubbock, NStar, before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, submitted December 15, 2010.

Mr. Muntz: “The NPT Line also helps set the stage for additional future
transmission improvements in New England, and thus added transmission
system reliability. The 40-mile AC Line from Franklin to Deerfield
extends the existing 345-kV bulk power system further north into New
Hampshire. This part of the NPT Line may provide an attractive “jump
off” point for additional reliability-based 345-kV upgrades in the future as
loads grow. Potential reliability projects enabled by this extension include
the addition of autotransformers in Franklin to enhance reliability in that
region and further expansion of the 345-kV system to points north or west
to meet future reliability needs in either New Hampshire or Vermont.”

Translation: the NPT line is just the beginning, the foot in the door. Expect wider and wider ROWs, more and more towers as Hydro-Quebec extends its reach via PSNH ROWs.

Mr Muntz: “The construction of any major transmission project requires a significant effort in the areas of siting and permitting. However, the NPT Line faces a number of unique siting and permitting risks. The NPT Line needs to obtain regulatory approvals both in New Hampshire and at the federal level. At the federal level, this involves obtaining a Presidential Permit from the DOE. One or more special use permits from the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may also be needed. In New England, these are not permitting requirements and risks that are commonly associated with ordinary, routine transmission upgrades. In addition to increasing the complexity of the processes
and requirements that Northern Pass must engage in and satisfy, the additional
permitting requirements increase the possibility that federal and state agencies
will issue decisions that conflict with one another, an outcome that could delay
the project or result in its cancellation.”

Translation: NPT is “unique” because nobody has ever tried to run an HVDC line with massive towers through the White Mountain National Forest, across the National Scenic Appalachian Trail, and through the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge.

Mr Muntz: “The NH SEC siting process involves consideration of numerous factors, including project solution alternatives, route alternatives, review of wetlands, floodplains and water resources, critical wildlife habitat, threatened or endangered wildlife and plant life, historic and cultural resources, social issues, electric and magnetic fields, engineering designs, and cost review.

Translation: “social issues” would be us, the people who will bear the brunt of this ill-conceived project; “electric and magnetic fields” is cancer.

Is there any unique risk associated with the fact that the TSA counter party is an affiliate of a foreign entity?
Messrs. Ausere and Lubbock: “Yes. HQ Hydro Renewable is affiliated with a Québec crown corporation, which in turn, is governed by Canadian laws. Despite the present cooperation between Québec and New England utilities, the fact remains that an international transaction has inherent risks that are absent in a purely domestic transaction. Although the TSA and parent guaranty include protections for Northern Pass in the event of a default by the customer, our lawyers have advised us that it is not possible to entirely eliminate the risk associated with contracting with a sovereign entity. Of course, no comparable risk exposure exists when constructing regional transmission projects, as the costs are borne by New England load under the ISO-NE OATT.”

Translation: isn’t this why the United States wished to end its dependence on OPEC? Do we now want to take the risk of making Montreal the capital of New Hampshire?  

Bury the Northern Pass is a group of concerned citizens in Grafton County working in coordination with our neighbors in Coos County. To join the email list, write to burynorthernpass@gmail.com.