Where’s the beef? NU stumbles through investor presentation today
Did NU say it will need a “new new Coos route” because of the Forest Society’s project to thwart the “new route”?
The Northern Pass portion of NU’s presentation to stock analysts today was notably lacking in substance, enigmatic on some occasions, and flat out wrong on others. The widely anticipated “new Coos route” announcement was not made. In fact, Leon Olivier, PSNH CEO, deferred it to the end of Q4, despite his earlier statement in July that NP would have the new route by the end of Q3. Another delay, in other words. And he pushed the 2016 project completion date back to 2017.
There was tricky math as well. Mr. Olivier claimed to have 99% of the lower 140 mile route sewn up. This literally cannot be true. NP does not have an approved route through the WMNF, roughly 7% of the lower 140 miles. If he meant 99% of the entire 180-200 mile route, the figures still do not add up. If the missing 1% (which surely is more) involves having to loop around the blocking parcels of the Trees Not Tower campaign, there’s a lot more mileage than Olivier is owning up to.
And Thomas May, CEO of NU, struggled to find words to answer a simple question about how filing alternative routes with the DOE would affect the timetable. He danced around until he seemed to say that NU will have “other preferable routes” to the current “new Coos route.” Will these be called the “new new Coos routes”?
“Okay. Question has to do with potential alternative — alternatives that we would have to file with DOE regarding Northern Pass, and how it may affect the schedule?
“Thomas J. May – Chief Executive Officer, President, Trustee and Member of Executive Committee
“Yes. If you recall, we did announce a route approximately 18 months a few years ago, and shall we say, we got a lot of feedback on that route. This new route will be the alternative to that previous route. We think this route is — it will be — it’s a good route. It will be more beneficial. It will — it is citable [siteable].We have other alternatives that we have looked at, and really — although there are different routes, you’re going to run into the same issues. Because if you have — we think what we’ve found is around a route that has the least impact on the environment, the least impact on the communities, but we will have other preferable routes. I wouldn’t speculate on what that would do to the overall cost of the project, the other routes or the timing of the gas flows at this point.”
The message to the opposition: keep on doing what we are doing, only more of it. Northern Pass appeared to be in considerable disarray today.
Link to written transcript of today’s presentation: http://seekingalpha.com/article/907791-northeast-utilities-shareholder-analyst-call?part=single
Northern Pass: Claims Progress On Route
By Chris Jensen
Despite opposition, the Northern Pass project is doing well, according to company officials.
During a conference call with industry analysts, officials from Northeast Utilities insisted they are happy with the progress they are making.
“I am pleased to say that we have about 99 percent of that 140-mile right-of-way right now either acquired or we have under agreement. The last essentially one percent we are working through the final details.”
That’s Lee Olivier, an official with Northeast Utilities, which is behind the Northern Pass hydro-electric project.
But the Northern Pass project does not have permission to use about 10 miles through the White Mountain National Forest, and that would be roughly 7 percent.
Nor did Olivier directly address progress on the route through Northern Coos.
A Northern Pass spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Northern Pass has been playing a kind of real-estate chess game with opponents.
Opponents of the project are trying to block a route in Northern Coos, using tactics such as conservation easements.
Oliver said the project still hopes to file that new route with the U.S. Department of Energy by the end of the year.
That filing will trigger a new series of public hearings before the Department of Energy which must still approve the project.
Jim Dannis .
Olivier appears to have misstated the length of the Northern Pass lines as 140 miles rather than 180 miles. Of course, who knows the current length of the preferred route, seeing as it has not yet been announced! But let’s stay with the supposed facts on the table. So, NU’s mistake #1 was to misstate the route length.
Assuming Mr. Olivier of NU slipped up on the length of the Northern Pass transmission lines and meant to say “180” rather than “140”, he still made a material misstatement.
The preferred route runs through the WMNF. Northern Pass has absolutely nothing, zip, zero, nada, in terms of land rights for the majority of the 10 mile WMNF crossing. The only way they get to cross is if they obtain a brand new, discretionary, temporary permit from the US Forest Service. The standards applicable to a new transmission line like Northern Pass in the WMNF are exceptionally high and, in the view of many, impossible for Northern Pass to meet. Forgetting to mention the WMNF issues was mistake #2.
Let’s go further and assume Mr. Olivier messed up the route mileage and forgot about the details of the WMNF. He has still made yet another material misstatement. To say that only 1% of the route mileage is not yet obtained or contracted is to sweep under the rug the problems created by that 1% (if 1% is the right number!). For example, the Forest Society’s “Trees Not Towers” campaign involves blocking parcels along Northern Pass’s preferred route. Going around blocking parcels, if it is possible at all, would almost certainly require long, sweeping detours. This will multiply route mileage. Mistake #3: failing to explain the consequences of the remaining blockages.
One could go on and on, but the reader should get the point. A senior NU executive was apparently unable to explain clearly where Northern Pass stands with its preferred route. He made at least three material misstatements in just a few sentences. Hopefully the press will assist Mr. Olivier in clarifying the facts.
Getting your voice heard: how to write effective scoping comments
Venting at Northern Pass may be a good therapeutic exercise, but it won’t do anything to stop the project. Responsible Energy Action LLC (REAL) offers suggestions about how to get your voice heard in the regulatory process. It’s the only vote on the project you’ll have. Now is a good time to work up a substantive comment that the DOE cannot ignore.
the preceding from Trees not Towers