After several years of “quiet” planning, Northern Pass was announced to the public in October 2010, when project sponsors filed their application for a “Presidential permit” allowing the lines to cross the US/Canada border.
There are two key governmental permits required for Northern Pass. The first is the Presidential permit, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”). The DOE will conduct an environmental impact review as part of its process. The environmental review will likely take two to four years to complete. The second key permit is administered by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (NH SEC). Northern Pass has not yet filed with the NH SEC to commence this process.
Northern Pass has already obtained the approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) of the terms of the transmission services agreement between a Hydro-Quebec affiliate and Northern Pass. The transmission arrangements give Hydro-Quebec the right to exclusive use of the full capacity of the transmission line. FERC approved a 12.56% rate of return on the equity provided by Northeast Utilities and NStar for the project, or roughly $70 million per year. This will be paid by Hydro-Quebec and included in the costs of the electricity sold by Hydro-Quebec over the Northern Pass lines.
Northern Pass originally projected an in-service date of 2015. Northern Pass recently announced this date has been pushed back and is currently 2016.