Eversource NH and Northern Pass Transmission seem to have serious doubts about whether the 192-mile transmission project would provide a net benefit to New Hampshire. Why else would the two Eversource subsidiaries vociferously argue in a 16-page motion filed with the Site Evaluation Committee that the SEC should not consider whether Northern Pass would provide a net benefit in determining whether to grant a siting certificate?
One of the four findings the SEC must make in order to grant Northern Pass a certificate is that it “will serve the public interest.” RSA 162-H:16,IV(e). The Eversource companies are actually contending that the SEC can only look at the positive benefits of Northern Pass in making that determination and that the committee cannot consider any of its negative impacts.
It’s easy to understand why the Eversource companies desperately want the SEC not to use a net benefits test to determine whether Northern Pass is in the public interest. After all, even their own economist recently testified that Northern Pass would only reduce electric rates by half a cent, and the best-case scenario in a report by the economist for the Public Counsel showed Northern Pass would only reduce rates by .28 of one cent. As I explained in a previous blog, that would save me a little over one dollar a month. When you weigh that against the damage Northern Pass will do to New Hampshire’s scenic special places, threatened and endangered species, and our tourism industry, it is kind of difficult to see how a net benefit would be derived from Northern Pass.
The Public Counsel makes the legal case for why the SEC can and should apply a net benefits test in its objection to the Eversource companies’ motion.
If you think about it, it’s really just common sense.
At some point in all of our lives when we’ve faced a big decision like whether to accept a job offer or quit a job or move to a new place, we’ve pulled out a piece of paper and made two columns, one for the pluses and one for the minuses. You list the pluses and minuses, consider them, and then you decide whether it’s in your interest to decide one way or the other. You don’t just look at the pluses – but that’s what the Eversource companies want the SEC to do.
Northern Pass just isn’t worth it. And Eversource apparently knows that.