Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Northern Pass?

    The Northern Pass project is a proposed transmission line that will carry low-cost renewable hydroelectric power from Québec to New Hampshire and New England. The $1.4 billion project is the largest and most significant renewable energy project proposed in New Hampshire and the region. The project will transmit the Canadian hydroelectric energy to the New England regional power grid and energy market using a new 187-mile transmission line, most of which will be built within existing PSNH electric transmission rights-of-way where power lines exist today. A new 32.25-mile right-of-way and 7.75 miles of underground along state roadways is being proposed in northern New Hampshire where there is no existing transmission right-of-way. The project is expected to be in service mid 2017.

  • What were the criteria for the selection of the new North Country route?

    The new route was developed in response to concerns about potential visual impact in both populated and scenic areas. Northern Pass engineers designed routing options that will locate the transmission line on land either owned or leased by the project, or on which easements or other arrangements have been obtained from willing sellers, or for which the project will seek permission to use as part of its permit application with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee. The resulting new route reduces the project’s visibility, particularly in scenic areas.

  • Why is the Northern Pass needed?

    New Hampshire and New England are faced with an increasing demand for energy, an overreliance on a single source of fuel (natural gas) to meet the energy needs of people and businesses, and a growing desire for cleaner sources of energy. Independent System Operator (ISO) New England, the operator of the regional power grid, predicts an increase of 17 percent in peak demand in the state over the next decade. ISO New England is the organization responsible for ensuring the constant availability of reasonably priced electricity in New Hampshire and New England and it has recently expressed serious concern over the consequences of having 52 percent of our energy supply coming from natural gas. In addition, policy makers, environmental organizations, and the public have recommended specific actions to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse/global warming gas) as part of an overall strategy to address climate change. Canadian hydroelectric power is a competitively priced, renewable source of energy, and is among the best options for addressing our energy needs in an economic and sustainable manner. The Northern Pass project is a key solution to all of these issues because it:

    • Diversifies our energy portfolio and ensures stability to protect against both economic and reliability risks associated with the region’s overdependence on natural gas.
    • Addresses strict governmental regulations that highlight the need for additional clean sources of energy; and adds a clean new source of power in anticipation of the potential retirement of nuclear and fossil fuel power plants due to age.
    • Helps New Hampshire achieve the goals set forth in New Hampshire’s Climate Action Plan, which supports the construction of transmission lines, like the Northern Pass, in order to import additional clean energy from Canada.
  • Will New Hampshire be guaranteed that a portion of the power from the Northern Pass will be dedicated to serving New Hampshire electric consumers for decades to come?

    A power purchase agreement (PPA) that would specifically benefit New Hampshire customers remains a high priority. PSNH is proposing a PPA for a specific portion of the energy transmitted on the Northern Pass to be purchased from Hydro-Québec, in a manner similar to past purchases by PSNH, so that New Hampshire customers would receive additional, unique, long-term benefits from the project. The details of the PPA will be made public once it is finalized.

  • Why will the project place two sections of the line along the new North Country route underground? Can all or more of the project be placed underground?

    Northern Pass plans to make these major investments in underground construction in order to address public feedback while also completing a vastly improved route in the North Country. Underground construction is extremely expensive. Adding more underground sections could make the project too expensive to build, and would deprive New Hampshire and the region of the clean energy, low-cost power, tax revenue, and jobs that the Northern Pass can deliver.

  • How much will customers pay for this $1.4 billion project?

    Nothing. This is a "participant funded” project that will be paid for, built, owned and operated by Northern Pass Transmission LLC, a New Hampshire company that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Northeast Utilities. Northern Pass will recover all of its costs in building and operating the project from Hydro Renewable Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, under a transmission service agreement approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In addition, unlike other new renewable energy projects, the Northern Pass will not require tax credits or a consumer-funded subsidy.

  • Will the Northern Pass reduce New Hampshire customers’ energy costs?

    Yes. New Hampshire customers will see a reduction in their energy rates, compared to what they would otherwise be, saving New Hampshire residential and business customers $20 to $35 million annually in reduced energy costs.

  • How will the Northern Pass benefit New Hampshire’s economy?

    The project will provide an estimated $28 million annually in new local, county, and state tax revenues. In addition, approximately 1,200 New Hampshire jobs will be created during construction. It is also estimated that an additional 200 new jobs will be created in New Hampshire once the project is operational, as a result of the energy cost savings the project will generate. Keeping energy costs low is key to maintaining a healthy, competitive economy.

  • Is this energy really "clean"?

    Yes. A project like the Northern Pass was envisioned by members of the NH Climate Change Policy Task Force in 2009 when they recommended:

    "…high voltage transmission lines should be built to import clean power generated from Canadian hydro and wind sources as a complementary policy to developing non-CO2-emitting generation in New Hampshire…”

    The Northern Pass will reduce regional carbon dioxide emissions by up to 5 million tons a year, which is equivalent to eliminating the annual emissions of nearly 900,000 cars.

  • What will the permitting and approval process be moving forward?

    The Northern Pass submitted its Presidential Permit application to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 2010. After the improved route was announced in June 2013, Northern Pass submitted an amended Presidential Permit application to the DOE. A public comment period on the Northern Pass application was held shortly after. This comment period included a series of DOE scoping meetings held in September 2013, where people spoke publicly about the project. The DOE is in the process of preparing a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), due to be released in late 2014.

    Northern Pass also submitted an amended application to the U.S. Forest Service for a Special Use Permit affecting the portion of the project that will cross the White Mountain National Forest within an existing transmission corridor.

    Other federal agencies participating in the development of the draft EIS include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    After the draft EIS is released, Northern Pass will file an application with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC). The SEC reviews all applications for the siting and construction of large-scale energy facilities, including natural gas pipelines, electric generating facilities, and high-voltage transmission lines like Northern Pass. The SEC has the final say on the permitting and siting of the project and will decide whether to issue a Certificate of Site and Facility after an extensive adjudicative proceeding that includes opportunity for public comment and participation.

    The Northern Pass will also file a permit application with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) for a Certificate of Site and Facility. The SEC certificate process incorporates all required state permits (e.g., wetland and water quality). Northern Pass expects to file this application in early 2014. To ensure a full opportunity for public involvement in the process, the SEC:

    • Provides public access to all meeting notices, procedural schedules, and related public documents;
    • Will conduct at least one public hearing in each county in which the Northern Pass is to be located; and
    • May request that the Northern Pass convene additional community meetings to provide public information about the project.
  • When will the transmission line be in service?
    The Northern Pass is expected to be in service in 2017.
  • How can people learn more about the project and the new North Country route?

    Details about Northern Pass, including benefits, construction details, and maps that show where the route will be located in each town or city, are available on this website, northernpass.us. If you have specific questions about Northern Pass, you can send them to info@northernpass.us or call us at 1-800-286-7305 to talk with one of our representatives.

    We also post information and updates on the Northern Pass project on our Facebook page and Twitter feed, @thenorthernpass.

  • Will there be impact to my property values as a result of the NPT construction?
    To learn more about how your property values may be impacted, click here