Environmental Regulators Say Northern Pass Needs Landowners Signatures

Nov 17, 2015

The Department of Environmental Services says Eversource Energy’s application to build the Northern Pass high voltage transmission power line is missing some pieces.

In a letter to the state’s energy siting committee, the DES writes the Northern Pass doesn’t have the signatures of landowners along the route’s right of way, which it contends are required for three kinds of environmental permits.

"The staff that reviewed the documents felt that there was not enough conclusive evidence to show that they did in fact have rights to impact the land that they were proposing to impact," explains Rene Pelletier, Assistant Director of the DES Water Bureau. 

Pelletier explained Northern Pass would need to identify the parcels it plans to cross by lot number on a tax map, and provide "an explanation of their ability, and someone saying that they had a right to cross that parcel."

Both the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, a major New Hampshire conservation group, and the New England Power Generators Association, a trade group representing power plants that compete with Eversource, laid out these objections weeks ago in filings to the state Site Evaluation Committee.

The agency’s letter goes on to suggest the SEC may still decide to accept the application as complete without the signatures.

"[The SEC] is in the driver's seat" said Pelletier, "If they deemed it complete, the clock starts ticking. We would then review it to see if it's in line with the statutes that regulate whatever the impact is. And if it were, we would recommend that the project could be permitted, but they would in fact decide if they issued a permit based on the ownership issue."

In an email, Northern Pass spokeswoman Lauren Collins writes "we have already received a letter from the SEC requesting information referenced in the Department's letter and plan to respond expeditiously."

In a similar filing the Department of Transportation finds that the portion of the application it reviews has sufficient information to proceed, and an agreement between the DOT and Eversource on the conditions for letting the company bury it’s power line along state roads is forthcoming.