June 27 (Reuters) - New England power company Northeast Utilities on Thursday proposed a new route for part of a $1.4 billion Northern Pass power transmission line to run from Quebec to New Hampshire.
Northeast Utilities said the high voltage direct current (HVDC) line is expected to be put into service in mid 2017, pending federal and state regulatory approvals.
If all goes according to plan, it will bring about 1,200 megawatts (MW) of mostly hydropower from Hydro-Quebec, Quebec’s province owned power company. That could power over one million New England homes.
Northeast Utilities would own the estimated 187-mile portion of the line in New Hampshire and Hydro-Quebec would own the Quebec portion.
In New Hampshire, the HVDC line would run from the town of Pittsburg in the northern part of the state to a new converter station in Franklin in the south central part of the state, where the energy will be converted to alternating current (AC) power. The AC power will travel to an existing substation in Deerfield in the southeastern part of the state.
Northeast Utilities, which submitted its original proposal in 2010, said the project will be financed by its developers and customers will not pay any of the associated costs.
Northeast Utilities said the improved route announced Thursday includes about 40 miles of new rights of way in the northern part of New Hampshire, including an underground portion of nearly 8 miles. About 147 miles of the project will be built in existing transmission rights of way.
But not everyone is satisfied with the project.
The Conservation Law Foundation, a New England environmental group, said in a statement that the Northeast Utilities measures amount to “putting a band-aid on a gaping wound.”
“The new route has the same flaws that have doomed its progress to date, primarily the lack of consideration for the communities that would unnecessarily bear all of the burden of the project and none of the benefit,” said Jonathan Peress, Vice President and director, Clean Energy and Climate Change for Conservation Law Foundation.
A spokesman at Northeast Utilities, Michael Skelton, said the company would “like to work with the Conservation Law Foundation and hope they will be supportive of the project in light of the fact the group has called for importing more hydropower from Canada to support more renewable energy in New England.”
Northeast Utilities said it will file an amendment to the Presidential Permit application with the U.S. Department of Energy soon, and in 2014 it will file with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee, which oversees the state permitting process.
The company expects the project to reduce New England’s carbon emissions by up to five million tons per year and cut annual energy costs in the region $200 million to $300 million by displacing costlier fossil fuel generation sources that would otherwise be needed to meet regional demand.
In addition, the company said the project is expected to generate $28 million in new property taxes annually for local communities and create 1,200 jobs per year during construction.