NEXT New England
About This Show
NEXT is a weekly radio show and podcast about New England, one of America’s oldest places, at a time of change. It’s hosted by John Dankosky at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut. Through original reporting and interviews, we ask important questions about the issues we explore: where are we now? How did we get here? And what's next?
Most Recent Episode
Episode 82: The Other End of the Line (Updated)
2 days ago
This week, some favorites from the archive: From north of the border comes a fascinating story of land disputes, French Canadian pride, and massive dams that are set to supply more power to the New England grid. We also tour an old Hartford factory that’s preparing for a new life as a food and jobs hub for a struggling neighborhood. And we get a taste of what’s new about New England food.
Hydro-Quebec’s Daniel-Johnson Dam and Manicoucagan Reservoir seen from a helicopter. Photo by Hannah McCarthy for NHPR
The Power Up North
New England has aggressive goals for renewable energy, but high energy costs here push us towards a balance between the cleanest sources, and the least expensive. Nuclear and natural gas account for the biggest chunk of our energy production currently. As we’ve reported, Massachusetts is reviewing proposals for offshore wind energy projects that could be the first of their size in the country. But increasingly, policy makers and utilities are looking at our neighbors to the north.
A map provided by Hydro-Quebec shows existing dams, transmission lines, and projects under construction.
A vast network of hydroelectric dams powers the province of Quebec, with plenty of inexpensive energy to spare. These dams belong to Hydro-Quebec, an electric company owned by the Quebec government. They supply about ten percent of the power used by the New England grid.
Several of these proposals for new transmission lines that would connect New England with Canadian hydro were among the bids for a twenty-year renewable energy contract with the state of Massachusetts. At the end of January Massachusetts picked just one project – the Northern Pass – a power line that would cut north to south across much of New Hampshire, owned and operated by Eversource.
Dedicated listeners know what happened next. A week later, an early decision by New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee brought those plans to a halt (and delayed the release of Episode 79 by a day as we scrambled to produce an update!) The committee denied Eversource a permit for the project be