Eversource transmission investments to total $950 million for 2017

Eversource President and CEO Jim Judge said during the call that the company completed its $2.2 billion capital plan for the year in 2016

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Eversource Energy’s transmission investments in 2016 totaled about $900 million, compared to about $800 million in 2015, and $700 million in 2014, Phil Lembo, Eversource executive vice president, CFO and treasurer, said on Feb. 22 during the company’s 4Q16 earnings call.

Eversource also invested $117 million through 2016 in the Greater Hartford projects, which involve 27 different projects that the company expects to complete in 2018, at a cost of about $350 million.

Eversource President and CEO Jim Judge said during the call that the company completed its $2.2 billion capital plan for the year in 2016.

Lembo said that while Eversource has moved most of the Northern Pass Transmission project’s construction from 2017 to 2018 and 2019, the company has identified other critical work for this year, resulting in a capital budget for 2017 of $2.71 billion, which is consistent and slightly ahead of the $2.66 billion estimate for 2017 that Eversource had forecast at this time last year.

“Transmission investments at our four regulated utilities are expected to total $950m for this year, as compared with $609m we had projected a year ago,” Lembo said during the call. “We are forecasting $1.4 billion of transmission capital expenditures in 2018, and $1.2 billion in 2019. All told, we expect to invest $3.9 billion in electric transmission over the next four years.”

The increased capital expenditures in 2017 and 2018 are driven by such items as spending on critical infrastructure protection projects, storm hardening, and various projects related to reliability in terms of line replacement and pole structural changes, he said.

Lembo said that on the electric distribution side, Eversource is projecting investments of about $1.2 billion this year, including a $200 million investment in solar energy, and about $900 million per year from 2018 through 2020.

Of the Northern Pass project, Lee Olivier, Eversource executive vice president – Enterprise Energy Strategy and Business Development, during the call noted that the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee has set evidentiary hearing dates for the project beginning in April and continuing through July.

“We consider the schedule supportive of the committee's stated commitment to issue a final written order no later than Sept. 30, 2017,” he said. “The project also secured a major legal victory on Jan. 31 when the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision, which found that the state Department of Transportation has exclusive authority to approve construction of utility facilities along and beneath state highways. Project opponents had claimed the utilities were also required to obtain permission of adjacent property owners to construct facilities in the public right of way. This was a very important ruling for the project since 60 miles of undergrounding we have proposed is largely under state and local roads.”

As reported, the project, which would extend about 192 miles from the Canadian border through New Hampshire to southern New England, is comprised of a single circuit 320-kV high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line linked to a 345-kV alternating current (AC) transmission line via an HVDC/AC converter terminal located in Franklin, N.H.

Olivier noted that assuming that the project receives a favorable decision from the SEC in September, the company expects to receive U.S. Department of Energy approval before the end of the year.

“With those approvals in hand, we expect to begin construction early in 2018, and for the project to be completed by the end of 2019,” he said. “Our new capital forecast shows capital expenditures associated with Northern Pass of about $680 million in 2018, and $800 million in 2019.”

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