Business & Tech

More time to decide fate of Northern Pass

Columbia, N.H. - 11-27-12 - A sign on Rt. 3 opposed to the planned Northern Pass, a massive transmission project from Quebec to Southern New England. (Globe staff photo / Bill Greene) section:H&S, reporter:daley, topic:09northernpass
Bill Greene/globe staff/file 2012
A sign on Rt. 3 opposed to the planned Northern Pass.

The Baker administration is giving local utilities another week to decide on the controversial Northern Pass project.

Massachusetts officials had set a deadline of Friday for the state’s three big electric utilities — Eversource Energy, National Grid, and Unitil — to assess whether to continue with Northern Pass, a 192-mile transmission project across New Hampshire that was rejected by regulators in that state last week.

The parties met by phone on Friday but did not disclose any sort of resolution. Instead, the state’s energy resources agency said it will continue the talks and expects to have further details by Feb. 16.

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A committee made up of utility executives and state officials chose Northern Pass over other options to meet a Massachusetts requirement to bring more clean energy into the state. Backed by Eversource, the Northern Pass project would bring more than 1,000 megawatts of power into the region from Hydro-Quebec.

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The power contracts must be reviewed by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who expressed frustration at the lack of resolution. “It is unclear why the evaluation team was unable to move forward this week when all parties have recognized the importance of swift action. Our office continues to call on the evaluation team to resolve this issue as quickly as possible,” said Healey spokeswoman Chloe Gotsis.

A spokesman for the Northern Pass project said its backers appreciate the time state officials are taking.

He said Eversource will soon file a motion for reconsideration with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee that rejected a crucial permit for Northern Pass.

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.