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Eversource heads to court over permit denial for hydropower transmission project

Eversource Energy appealed to the Supreme Court of New Hampshire over the denial of a state siting permit for its Northern Pass transmission project.

The state site evaluation committee rejected Eversource subsidiary Northern Pass Transmission LLC's siting permit application for the Northern Pass project in February and denied the developer's request for rehearing of that decision July 12. According to the siting committee, the application failed to show that the proposed 1,090-MW hydro-backed power line would not harm the economy, specifically tourism and real estate values, or "unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region."

With 60 miles of the Northern Pass project proposed to be buried underground to preserve scenic mountain views, the 320-kV high-voltage, direct-current line initially would run 158 miles from the Canada-U.S. border to a proposed converter terminal in Franklin, N.H. From there, a 345-kV alternating current line would continue another 34 miles to a substation in Deerfield, N.H.

The project was designed to transmit Canadian hydropower generated by provincial utility Hydro-Québec and originally was chosen by electric distribution companies in Massachusetts as the winning bid in a solicitation for cleaner energy. However, the siting committee's unanimous rejection of the siting permit application led to Massachusetts' three utilities contracting with an alternative transmission project instead.

Northern Pass in a press release said a favorable court ruling on its Aug. 10 appeal could enable the $1.6 billion project to return to the siting committee for further review in 2019.