Haven’t written in some time but today I’m skiing at Bretton Woods on what is an incredible New Hampshire day blue skies, warm tempatures and hard packed granulated snow actually it’s a bit icy. Spring like skiing imagine that.
In any case as I was riding up the quad Bethlehem Express I saw the support towers and my mind drifted into some of the policy and political debate surrounding the proposed Northern Pass project which is the consortium between PSNH, Hydro Quebec and transmission towers marching across New Hampshire towards metro power markets in the south. Beyond the glossy brochures I keep getting from PSNH in my mailbox I think it’s safe to say that most members of the general public are opposed to the Northern Pass proposal regardless of it’s substantial capital investment in the Granite State.
“It’s time for Gary Long (PSNH CEO) to pack up his tent and call this a day.” said Executive Councilor Ray Burton who is opposed to this project. Burton also termed the Canadians who obviously have equity in this massive project “Our friends from the north.” I’m not sure if there is much friendship involved here I think the business plan of Hydro Quebec is quite simple: make money.
And it’s in that order.
I’m opposed to the project as I don’t think that it incorporates enough economic development and environmental consideration into both its construction and it’s long term operation. Sure it is a massive capital investment but what happens from a long-term policy perspective? And there are lots of questions that can be asked here in everything from rate design to renewable energy portfolios and my continuing interest the weather adjusted rate mechanism or warm. In the end I think PSNH and Hydro Quebec are looking to purchase some real estate and New Hampshire deserves more.
After I posted the last entry about Northern Pass I had the thought that there might be some question(s) as to the relevance of rate design to a massive capital project proposed for New Hampshire.
I could have done a better job in explaining this relevance so I'll do it now.
If you notice by its corporate history PSNH has opposed everything that benefits the electric consumer in New Hampshire. PSNH opposed open competition, PSNH opposed wood fired generation capacity and PSNH opposed new and innovative rate designs like WARM which are being used very successfully in states like Washington and Oregon.
So now PSNH wants approval for a massive project that essentially benefits only a few instead of the entire state. Sure contractors, employees and parties on the right of way including the economically depressed Franklin see a large benefit from Northern Pass but what about the rest of the state?
This is why I think Northern Pass falls short. I don't think it would be beyond the means of both PSNH and Hydro Quebec to take an action(s) that would create some of the benefits I've described rate design would be just one type of example. If you notice they don't do this.
Last thought I'll leave you with Vermont faces many of the same challenges that New Hampshire does this project could also be a regional based opportunity for two states and Canada to develop a project that is not only viable but would create long-term value for the future.