Boston, MA – The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) charged with key permitting authority over the now-infamous Northern Pass Transmission proposal voted unanimously yesterday to halt the project in its tracks. Along with the Appalachian Mountain Club, an outspent but never outclassed contingent of partner organizations, local residents, conservationists, and outdoor enthusiasts from across New England are rejoicing at the decisive ruling.
At issue for the SEC is the glaring failure of Eversource Energy, the utility company behind Northern Pass, to ensure that its $1.6 billion proposal for 192 miles of transmission corridor, including 132 miles above-ground line using more than 1800 towers up to 165 feet tall, would not unduly affect the orderly development of the region. Only last week, Massachusetts selected Northern Pass as the Bay State’s best option for meeting its clean energy requirements. The SEC’s decision sends a clear message that Massachusetts’ demand for energy cannot result in simply exporting to the north the devastating environmental impacts of a project like Northern Pass.
Thousands of citizens and 30 of the 31 impacted towns have opposed the project over the course of an eight-year-long saga in which AMC has been involved since Northern Pass was first proposed in 2010. “This ruling by the SEC is a testament to the power of our collective voices in protecting the places we love from inappropriate energy development,” said Susan Arnold, the AMC’s vice president for conservation. “New Hampshire’s iconic landscape and natural resources should never be sacrificed to the outsized impacts of 20th-century transmission technology when 21st-century technology is more appropriate and readily available.”
According to Arnold, the SEC saw through what was a poorly planned project and application whose technical flaws were outdone only by its misinformation. Eversource officials said in a statement that they are “shocked and outraged” by the decision and have already vowed to appeal—a process that could ultimately find them in New Hampshire Supreme Court.