North Country
12:57 pm
Sat October 6, 2012

Northern Pass Clarifies, Says It Has 99 Percent Of New Coos Route

A Northern Pass spokesman said Saturday that the project has 99 percent of the land it needs for the new route through Coos, clarifying remarks made Friday by a company executive.

During a conference call with analysts Friday Lee Olivier, an official with Northeast Utilities, said:

“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 created some confusion because the Northern Pass project does not have permission to use about 10 miles of right-of-way through the White Mountain National Forest, and that would be roughly 7 percent.

Nor did Mr. Olivier directly address progress on the sought-after, new route through Northern Coos.

A Northern Pass spokesman couldn't immediately be reached for comment late Friday.

But in an e-mail Saturday Northern Pass spokesman Michael Skelton wrote the Northern Pass project “has 99 percent of new Coos route.”

The Northern Pass web site now also has a statement that says:

“Northeast Utilities, the parent company of Northern Pass Transmission LLC, today announced that the project has acquired, or has under agreement, about 99 percent of the property necessary to announce a new proposed route.”

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.

"What they are saying is that they do not have enough to even announce a new route," Jack Savage, a spokesman for The Forest Society, wrote in an e-mail.

The Forest Society has said it has a deal for conservation easements it believes will block Northern Pass. But it needs to raise $2.5 million by the end of that month.

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.