Businesses raise concerns over SEC’s Northern Pass process

BAE, Globe Manufacturing join Manchester, Nashua chambers in saying their interests aren’t being met in proceedings

Two major New Hampshire manufacturers and two of its largest chambers of commerce have sent letters to the NH Site Evaluation Committee raising questions about whether their voices are being heard in the process determining whether to approve the Northern Pass transmission project.

The two letters, one sent on Feb. 8 by the presidents of the Greater Manchester and Greater Nashua chambers of commerce and the other sent on Feb. 13 by top executives of BAE Systems Electronic Systems in Nashua and Globe Manufacturing Co. in Pittsfield, claim that, because they were denied their requests for intervenor status in the SEC’s Northern Pass case last spring, their concerns are not being addressed in the proceedings.

At the time of the requests, the SEC said the organizations “do not represent the kind of substantial interests that warrant participation as an intervenor,” as Guy Montminy, senior vice president at BAE Systems, and Don Welch, president of Globe, wrote in their letter. At the time, they wrote, they were assured their “concerns would be adequately addressed by the overall process.”

But, both letters charged, the SEC’s Counsel for the Public has failed to include their “interests and concerns.”

The Counsel for the Public in the Northern Pass case is Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Roth.

Both letters refer to an Oct. 31, 2016, meeting with Roth at which the organizations, among others, were represented.

At the meeting, “we highlighted a variety of concerns,” wrote Skelton and Hatch, including “the sense of urgency among businesses” over energy supplies and high energy costs, the difficulty attract and retain “good-paying manufacturing jobs” because of those costs and the belief that Northern Pass “is an important part of the solution” of the state’s energy problem.

Both letters point to the Counsel for the Public’s pre-filed testimony, in which “we don’t see any mention of the issues we raised in our meeting,” wrote Montminy and Welch. “From our vantage point, it does not appear that CFP sees it as part of his role to advance our interests.”

They added: “Without a strong voice or advocate, we are concerned that our interests are not being represented by ‘the overall process.’”

As Skelton and Hatch wrote, “we were hopeful” that Roth “recognized his role in representing all interests before the SEC. Alarmingly, that hasn’t been the case.”

In the pre-filed testimony submitted by Roth so far, they added, “we have yet to see any mention or acknowledgement of our concerns.”

If the SEC process fails to include their concerns and look at the issues they have raised, they said, “we are left to question how our interests are now being represented before the SEC. If our voices aren’t being heard, we feel that’s a major problem – one that gets to the very heart and integrity of the process.”

Calls to the Site Evaluation Committee and Counsel for the Public were not returned by deadline.

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