Northern Pass

Chris Jensen / NHPR

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, one of the state's oldest conservation groups, has asked the Coos County Superior Court to block the Northern Pass project, a power line which would connect New England to Canadian hydropower.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR


Gov. Maggie Hassan has asked the U.S. Department of Energy to reschedule public hearings currently planned for December on the proposed Northern Pass project.

The hearings on a draft environmental report on the project also gave the public until Dec. 31 to comment.

Hartford, Connecticut-based Eversource has proposed a 192-mile transmission line from Pittsburg to Deerfield, carrying 1,090 megawatts of hydro-power produced by Canada's biggest hydro generator, HydroQuebec. It filed an application with the state Site Evaluation Committee last month.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Citing a desire to avoid a confrontation with a legislative committee, the Site Evaluation Committee Wednesday softened proposed a rule involving "public interest" as part of its consideration of new utility projects.

The issue at the meeting was whether the Site Evaluation Committee had gone beyond what the legislature intended when it ordered the body’s reorganization so it would better serve "the public good" and "provide clarity" about its rules and how it makes decisions.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Over the next year, the state’s Site Evaluation Committee will consider whether to okay the controversial Northern Pass project.  Eventually it is also likely to weigh in on at least one wind farm and the Kinder Morgan pipeline.  That puts a spotlight on the committee-- made up of seven state officials and two members of the public.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

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 Department of Energy on Thursday released a supplemental environmental impact statement on Northern Pass’ plan to bury an additional 52 miles of its 192-mile route. The federal agency also said it would hold three public hearings on the 36-page document next month.

Eversource New Hampshire /

If printed on 8 x 11 paper, and laid end to end, a single copy of the Northern Pass’ application to the state’s Site Evaluation Committee, would stretch nearly 4 miles. With 51 appendices spread across 35 volumes, each application takes up more than 20,000 pages.

When they were laying out the boxes of applications that needed to be delivered “it looked like we were moving,” says Lauren Collins, Northern Pass spokeswoman. 

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The Northern Pass has submitted its application to state officials.

The proposed 192-mile power line that would connect New England to Canadian hydro-power has been mired in controversy since it was announced in 2010. But with the filing of Monday's application, New Hampshire's Site Evaluation Committee now has until December of 2016 to approve or reject the project.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has declared the landscape along the 192-mile route Northern Pass wants to use for its transmission lines to be a “national treasure" and says the project threatens “New Hampshire’s historic character.”

Chris Jensen for NHPR

In Whitefield Wednesday night, Northern Pass officials told Coos residents burying the entire transmission line would be so expensive the project couldn't move forward.

The public meeting for Coos County was one of a series required by the state before Northern Pass can seek approval from the state's Site Evaluation Committee.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Wednesday night marked the first in a series of open houses during which Eversource is presenting its latest proposal for a power line that will connect the massive hydro-electric dams of Quebec all the way down to the town of Deerfield, New Hampshire.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Democratic U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen called the most Northern Pass recent proposal an important step forward, but says she’s not yet ready to endorse the project.

Speaking with NHPR’s Morning Edition, Shaheen says while she’s pleased more of the project’s power lines would be buried, she still has concerns about its impact.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte says she’s not satisfied with Eversource’s plan to bury an additional 52 miles of the controversial Northern Pass project.

The utility said last week it would bury a total of 60 of the 192 miles.

“They certainly made a step forward, but I think there is more that they could do,” Ayotte told NHPR.

In 2013 Ayotte told NHPR the entire line should be buried.

But Saturday she stopped short of saying that’s still her position.

She said she is still studying the change.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Friends and foes of the Northern Pass project will have another chance to express their views next month at a series of public meetings around the state.

Under state regulations Northern Pass must hold such meetings at least 30 days before it can file an application with the Site Evaluation Committee.

In addition to federal approval the SEC’s approval is necessary for the project to be built.

The format includes a project overview  from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. There will be questions and answers from 6:30 to 7:30 with comments taken from 7:30 to 10:30 pm.


Officials with Northern Pass, the controversial hydropower project, have announced an offer to bury an additional fifty-two miles of power lines – roughly a third of the total. But opponents still have concerns, including impacts on the environment and property values. We’ll get the latest, hear from both sides, and find out what might be next. 

Eversource unveiled a new proposal for the controversial Northern Pass project Tuesday. It’s the power company’s latest effort to gain support for its plan to bring hydroelectric power from Canada into New England.

President of Eversource New Hampshire Bill Quinlan made the announcement at Globe Manufacturing in Pittsfield. The backdrop was intended to underscore the potential economic benefits of the project. During the presentation Quinlan took pains to stress that Eversource has listened to the Northern Pass’s many critics.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Political reaction was mixed to the revised Northern Pass proposal released on Tuesday.

Eversource officials say they’re now willing to bury 52 miles of lines through the White Mountains. That means 60 miles of lines, or nearly a third, of the 192-mile route would be buried.

Senate President Chuck Morse of Salem called the changes a major improvement and a great opportunity for the state.

“I am pleased to be able to support the Northern Pass project as now revised,” Morse said.

Department of Energy

Last week Eversource official Lee Olivier told analysts that the company still thinks completely burying the Northern Pass line is “unnecessary” and “prohibitively expensive.”

But, he said, some additional burial might be possible.

That comes in response to the release of a new report from the Department of Energy that includes a look at the issue.

For years opponents of the controversial Northern Pass project have contended the overhead transmission lines could be buried.

And Northern Pass officials have insisted burial is too expensive.

File photos / NHPR


New Hampshire's Congressional delegation wants the public to get more time to comment on the proposed Northern Pass power transmission project.

The Department of Energy released its long-awaited environmental impact report on the project Tuesday, saying the plan to bring hydroelectric power from Quebec into southern New England on high-voltage lines through New Hampshire could hurt tourism, wildlife and property values — but would cost less than other alternatives.

The Department of Energy has released a long-awaited draft of its Environmental Impact Statement examining the Northern Pass project as well as alternatives including complete or partial burial.

The agency found that full burial of the lines would have the smallest impact visually but would be about twice as expensive.

However, it would also provide about 1,500 jobs, almost twice as many as putting the lines overhead.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

State officials have again found fault with a federally required review of Northern Pass' potential impact on historical sites.

This is the second time within a month that the state’s Division of Historical Resources has taken issue with the federal review called Section 106.

As part of the permitting process, the Department of Energy must look at the potential impact to historical sites or views along Northern Pass’s proposed route. 

mwmn via Flickr CC /

The organization behind the “Ride the Wilds” ATV network in the North Country is in talks with Northern Pass about getting a multimillion-dollar donation. But the founder of the group says accepting such a donation would not indicate Ride the Wilds endorses the controversial project.

Under the terms being discussed Northern Pass would give the North Country Off Highway Recreational Vehicle Coalition as much as $500,000 immediately, along with about 1,100 acres of land in the Diamond Pond area in Stewartstown and Colebrook. That land is valued at about $1.5 million.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

New Hampshire officials are not happy with the quality of a federal report that is supposed to gauge the Northern Pass’ impact on historic places and landscapes.

The critics are from the state’s Division of Historical Resources and the subject is what’s called a Section 106 review.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Eversource Energy says it has come to an agreement with an electrical union that will funnel more work to New Hampshire residents.

The company has proposed three major transmission projects. The most well-known is the controversial power line that would connect New England to Canadian hydro-power called the Northern Pass, but also two upgrades in the southern part of the state needed to beef up weak spots in the grid – the Seacoast and the Merrimack Valley reliability projects.


An important part of evaluating the impact of the Northern Pass project is a federal requirement for a historical review.

It’s called a Section 106 and it is supposed to determine whether the construction of Northern Pass – including the visual impact - will adversely affect any of the state’s historical sites.

It calls for public involvement – and the state’s congressional delegation - has said the Northern Pass review overall should be transparent. 

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Organizers of the opposition to Northern Pass – along with a state senator - on Sunday said it is time to prepare to persuade state regulators that - in its current form - the project is a mistake.

About 120 people filled the Easton Town Hall.

The gathering was called because Northern Pass will soon be asking the state’s Site Evaluation Committee to approve the controversial project.

Without that approval, the project can’t move ahead.

Anyone can provide comments to the SEC.



Within the next two months the U.S. Department of Energy is expected to release its draft report on the environmental impact of the controversial Northern Pass project.

That federal report could propose some changes in the route and a top Northern Pass official says the company has been looking at options should modifications be needed...

The issue came up during a recent conference call with analysts.

One of them asked about a 1,090 megawatt project recently listed with ISO New England.



Assuming the Northern Pass project is approved, it will not be fully operational until the first half of 2019, Eversource Energy official Lee Olivier said during a conference call with analysts.

That’s a delay of about six months, which Olivier said was due in part to an extended regulatory process.

When the project was announced late in 2010 officials said it should be operating by 2015. But that was before it became a highly controversial project opposed - in its current form - by politicians including Gov. Hassan.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The approval process for Northern Pass is ramping up and so is the battle for public support.

Last month Northern Pass and its parent company Eversource Energy donated $3 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to be used on conservation projects in New Hampshire.

But there’s some controversy over it now and NHPR’s Chris Jensen has been looking into the donation and why some conservation groups are reluctant to accept the money.  He joins us now.