A developer has proposed another transmission project that would link Canadian hydro-power to consumers in Southern New England. As proposed the project would be 150 miles through Vermont, and be entirely underground and underwater.
The transmission line is called the New England Clean Power Link. It would run from Southern Quebec, buried along the bottom of Lake Champlain before turning east for 50 miles to Ludlow, Vermont, where it would plug into the New England grid.
Paul Grenier, the mayor of Berlin, one of three Coos Country Commissioners and an advocate of the Northern Pass was a lonely guy Wednesday evening at the U.S. Department of Energy’s third public hearing on the project.
Grenier walked through a sea of orange to reach the podium.
There were about 350 people gathered at the Mountain View Grand Resort and most wore orange, a symbol of their opposition to Northern Pass.
The Department of Energy has moved a planned hearing on the proposed Northern Pass power project from West Stewartstown to Colebrook at the request of New Hampshire's congressional delegation, so more people can attend. U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte and Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster had said the original location might not be big enough. The Sept. 26 hearing has been moved to Colebrook Elementary School from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
A public "scoping" hearing on Northern Pass is being moved from West Stewartstown to Colebrook after the state’s Congressional delegation and Coos County Commissioner Rick Samson raised concerns.
The site is being changed “in response to public requests that raised concerns about insufficient capacity” at a restaurant in West Stewartstown, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The meeting will now be held at the Colebrook Elementary School, 27 Dumont Street from 5 to 8 pm on September 26.
The campaign to promote this Canadian Hydropower project, focused until now on the North Country, has moved into central regions of the state. Many of the concerns about towers and landscapes heard up North are being echoed elsewhere, but so are arguments that the state needs this source of renewable energy.
More than 100 people showed up to an information session about the Northern Pass project in Concord last night. It was the sixth and southernmost of a series of ten scheduled sessions.
Central New Hampshire residents got the most detailed look to date of the route. The main attraction was a series of five computers where residents could look up the footprint of the project in relation to their property.
Northern Pass says it will provide $7.5 million to fund a job-creation effort in Coos County, but the money won’t be available unless the controversial project is approved.
Northern Pass wanted to do something beyond the estimated 1,200 construction jobs the project would create statewide, said Gary Long, the past president of Public Service and now an official with Northern Pass.
New Hampshire’s congressional delegation is asking the U.S. Department of Energy whether the federal agency’s evaluation of the Northern Pass Transmission project can proceed if Northern Pass doesn’t have permission to use some segments of its new route.
For the project to move ahead the D.O.E. must give a Presidential Permit allowing the hydro-electric power to be brought across the border from Canada.
In what appears to be a groundbreaking tactic Northern Pass says it plans to ask the state’s Site Evaluation Committee to give it permission to bury its transmission lines on roadside property that the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forest says it controls.
But there are serious doubts that the Site Evaluation Committee has that authority, leading to the prospect of a court fight and delay in the project.
A house subcommittee has again started work on three bills inspired by the Northern Pass Transmission project held in committee over the summer. The bills would require developers to bury transmission lines, place them along transportation corridors when feasible, or to not build them if regulators determine there is no public need.
A top executive with Northeast Utilities told analysts Tuesday that he expects to have final approval for the Northern Pass Project around the middle of 2015 and be importing hydro-electric energy from Canada two years later.
"Our plan has both the state and federal permitting processes complete by mid-2015. On that schedule we expect to bring the project into service around mid-2017," said Northeast Utilities chief operating officer Lee Olivier during a conference call with analysts.
Northern Pass has formally filed its new route with the Department of Energy and it raises the possibility the hydro-electric project might still need to cross a tiny section of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Conservation area.
Late last month Northern Pass officials revealed a new northern route through Coos Country. It calls for burying almost eight miles of line alongside roads, mostly in Stewartstown. But that will require the approval of the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.
After a series of delays PSNH has announced a new route for its Northern Pass project.
The route follows a more easterly path than the original 2010 route and it includes nearly eight miles of underground wires. But this new route isn’t a done deal. State officials still have to approve a key element – putting those underground lines on public property.
PSNH has announced a new route for their controversial hydroelectric project.
In the northern part of the state, the new route veers east from Pittsburg, Clarksville and Stewartstown to Dixville. Then, it drops south to Drummer in the middle of the state, before bending back west to Northumberland on existing rights of way.
PSNH president Gary Long says PSNH owns all of the property or easements necessary to connect power lines from Canada down to Deerfield.
After the announcement of Northern Pass’ new proposed route through Northern Coos - expected late this morning - the utility’s next steps will be to seek state and federal approval.
Having a new proposed route means Northern Pass can formally file it with the U.S. Department of Energy, which has to give its approval for a Presidential Permit. That permit allows the hydro-electric power to be imported from Canada.
Some Northern Pass opponents are hoping Governor Maggie Hassan will sign Senate Bill 99, which they think may complicate approval of the controversial hydro-electric project. The bill may reach Hassan's desk this week but she says she hasn’t decided what to do.
“I haven’t reviewed the bill yet in any kind of detail so I’ll do that and then make up my mind,” she told NHPR Saturday.
Governor Maggie Hassan has sent a letter to the governor of Connecticut, Democrat Dannel Malloy, asking him to reject changes to that state’s renewable energy laws, called the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The changes are seen as a boost to the controversial Northern Pass Transmission line.
The Governor Hassan’s letter says the Connecticut proposal that would allow hydro to be counted toward that state’s renewable energy goals quote, “undermines our common goal of fostering new and small-scale renewable resources here in New England.”
During a quarterly conference call Thursday officials at Northeast Utilities, the parent company of the Northern Pass project, said while they have a new route they still aren’t ready to say where it goes.
And that the soonest the project could now get underway is 2017.
NHPR’s Chris Jensen listened in and has this report:
One reason the starting date of Northern Pass has slipped from 2015 to 2017 is opposition to the project.