Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More Extension Cords Across New Hampshire?

Northeast Utilities (NU) admits that Northern Pass is not meant to keep the lights on. What does NU say Northern Pass is meant to do?

On March 15, 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held a one-day technical conference on merchant and participant-funded transmission. After the conference, various utilities filed written policy comments. On May 5, 2011, NU/NSTAR filed a comment requesting more flexible regulatory treatment by FERC; the full comment is here. In the two sections examined in this post, NU first explains that Northern Pass, a participant funded transmission project, is not needed for reliability: it's not intended to keep the lights on, but to respond to social policy goals and to make money. Second, NU dreams about building more big transmission lines from rural to urban areas.

Not Keeping the Lights on, Just Making Money

NU reveals what participant-funded transmission projects like Northern Pass are all about:  “Participant funded transmission projects are fundamentally different than regionally planned transmission projects intended to keep the lights on.  Unlike regionally planned projects that are designed to address NERC and ISO operational criteria, participant funded projects typically intend to respond to either social policy goals, such as state-mandated renewable portfolio standards and reduced carbon emissions, or underlying economic conditions beneficial to the participants, or both.  As such, participant funded projects may not impact a region’s transmission grid, reliability requirements or rates and therefore should be eligible for more flexible regulatory treatment because they meet different goals than regionally planned transmission projects”  (emphasis added).  In other words, these optional transmission projects, not intended to keep the lights on, basically try to meet “social policy goals” or just try to make money for the participants.  Thank you, NU, for making such a clear distinction between projects needed for reliability and optional projects like Northern Pass.

More Northern Pass’s on the Horizon?

NU further explains that, besides Northern Pass, it is exploring “other participant funded transmission projects” that will be “a collector system” for wind, biomass or other renewables.  The supplying or generating facilities will be far away from areas with energy demand, and thus there is a need for “significant transmission infrastructure” to deliver the electricity to urban areas.  In other words, NU is looking at a network of connector lines to hook up new renewables facilities to the grid, and the renewables facilities will be in rural areas. 

Any Questions?

Are there any questions about what Northern Pass is meant to do?

Are there any questions about NU's desire to drape more extension cords across NH?

Are there any question about why NH needs to pass HB 648?