CONCORD, N.H. (CN) – New Hampshire environmentalists claimed victory Wednesday after the state’s largest utility lost its conditional selection for a $1.6 billion Massachusetts hydropower project.
Known as the Northern Pass, the Eversource project would have involved running a 192-mile transmission line through New Hampshire from Canada.
With opponents saying that the new power lines would destroy scenic views of the White Mountains, damage pristine forest, and hurt tourism and property values, New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee unanimously denied a permit for project in February.
Though Eversource had been appealing the decision, Massachusetts announced Wednesday that it had found an alternative that will keep the project on an accelerated timelines, as required by the state’s 2016 renewable-energy law.
Instead of going through the Granite State, the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said it will partner with Maine to run 145 miles of new transmission lines from Canada to Lewiston, Maine.
The announcement spurred swift applause from opponents of the project including the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.
“Massachusetts came to the only logical conclusion, that Northern Pass won’t be built through New Hampshire, and isn’t an option going forward,” Jack Savage, a spokesman for that society, in a statement. “The extension cord is now unplugged.“
National groups meanwhile emphasized that their work is not done.
“It is too soon to celebrate however,” the Sierra Club in a statement. “Governor Baker’s second choice to meet Massachusetts’ energy needs, New England Clean Energy Connect, carries many of the same problems as Northern Pass.”
Eversource meanwhile said it understood Massachusetts’ decision but vowed to continue with the project.
“Despite recent delays, we continue to believe that Northern Pass is the best project for the region and New Hampshire, and we intend to pursue all options for making it a reality,” the company’s statement says. “Eversource and Hydro-Québec remain committed to the success of the project.”