BOSTON -- The Baker administration and electric utilities tipped their hand late Friday on their backup plan to bring hydropower down from Canada and help the Massachusetts meet its statutory renewable energy commitments.
After New Hampshire regulators shot down their first choice, Northern Pass Hydro, officials have agreed to potentially pursue a major contract with the 140-mile New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission project in Maine, which would feed the regional power grid, including Massachusetts.
Utilities and regulators in Massachusetts are essentially giving executives behind the Northern Pass project until March 27 to reverse a Feb. 1 decision by officials in New Hampshire, which denied that project the approvals needed to advance.
The latest decision appears aimed at ensuring that a major contract called for under a 2016 renewable energy law stays on track for an April 25 submission, either with the original contract winner or the runner-up in a major procurement that drew 46 bids.
AVANGRID Inc. and its subsidiary Central Maine Power Company (CMP) say its $950 million NECEC project will provide an above-ground link between the electrical grids in Quebec and New England and say they have "strong support" from government and business officials in Maine.
Central Maine Power says it expects to receive state approvals later this year and final federal permits in early 2019.
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