Hydro-Québec CEO optimistic that Northern Pass project isn't dead in the water

Hydro-Québec is still holding out hope that its multi-million Northern Pass project to sell energy to Massachusetts can move forward, despite facing a major roadblock this week.

Éric Martel says project could find alternative routes following New Hampshire setback

Éric Martel, president and CEO of Hydro-Québec, said there are alternatives routes for the Northern Pass project in New Hampshire is out of the question. (Stéphanie MacFarlane/Radio-Canada)

The CEO of Hydro-Québec is still holding out hope that its multimillion-dollar Northern Pass project can move forward, despite facing a major roadblock this week.

The plan, to bring up to 9.45 terawatt hours of electricity per year from Quebec's hydroelectric plants to Massachusetts involved a proposal to run lines through New Hampshire as the energy is sent south.

Regulators in the state of New Hampshire have rejected the idea, but Hydro-Québec CEO and president Éric Martel isn't discouraged.

"We knew there was a risk in New Hampshire," Martel told CBC's Daybreak. "But we still believe the [Northern Pass] project is going to happen."

The project has already been approved by the state of Massachusetts, and was slated to be the biggest export contract in Hydro-Québec's history.

​Northern Pass was estimated to generate up to $500 million in annual revenues for Quebec's hydro utility.

Martel said that the governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, is in favour of the plan, and even if it collapses, there are other routes the lines can take to get to Massachusetts.

"Hydro-Québec has proposed also a line going through Vermont and a line going through Maine to get to the same place," he said.

"The people of Massachusetts want that energy so, at some point, we'll find a way."

Martel said he's also encouraged by comments made by U.S. President Donald Trump over the last year in favour of hydro electricity.

In addition, the Quebec company, along with American partner Eversource Energy, has already received a presidential permit for the project.

"There's all the indications that Washington is in favour," said Martel.

Members of New Hampshire's Site Evaluation Committee unanimously denied an application for Hydro-Quebec's Northern Pass project, a deal worth $10 billion. Éric Martel, the head of Hydro-Quebec, was in the Daybreak studio to discuss the news. 10:28

With files from CBC Daybreak, the Canadian Press