AMC Still Opposes Northern Pass Project in New Hampshire
Northern Pass to Bury 52-Mile Segment of Transmission Line
In late August 2015, Eversource officials announced an amended plan for the proposed Northern Pass project that includes burial of 52 additional miles of the controversial 187-mile-long transmission line.
AMC members, our conservation partner organizations, and the many NH citizens who have steadfastly opposed the project as proposed, should take some credit for what is in fact a quite dramatic shift on the part of Northern Pass. For years the company has claimed that burial of the line was technically impossible and prohibitively costly. But other projects in the region have determined that full burial is economically feasible. So while we are glad to see this additional 52 miles of the project buried, the question remains: Why not all of it?
Under the new plan, the line would be buried along state road rights of way from Bethlehem to Ashland, N.H. The new buried segment would reduce visual impacts on the White Mountain National Forest and sections of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The company also announced plans to lower tower heights in some of the remaining sections with overhead lines.
We are still reviewing the implications of this recent announcement by Eversource, and there remain many issues of concern, such as the impacts on thousands of New Hampshire residents who would still be affected by overhead lines under this latest proposal. While progress appears to have been made on addressing the visual impacts to the central part of the state, the south and north remain highly impacted.
In its DEIS, the Department of Energy’s alternatives analysis provides strong evidence that the overhead transmission line proposed by Northern Pass or just partial burial in the vicinity of the White Mountain National Forest would cause considerable environmental and scenic damage compared to total burial of the project.
Furthermore, while Northern Pass has promoted its proposed overhead transmission line as a project that would provide jobs in the region, the DEIS provides clear evidence that full burial of the line would provide almost twice as many jobs, a much smaller impact on property values, and more long-lasting economic benefits to the region than overhead transmission lines or partial burial.
Northern Pass and Eversource are set to file applications with the state’s Site Evaluation Committee. As required by state statute, before submitting their application, they must schedule public information sessions in each county in which the project will be located. The Northern Pass website lists the places and times of those sessions as follows:
Merrimack County: Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, Grappone Conference Center, 7 Constitution Ave., Concord
Rockingham County: Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, Deerfield Fair Pavilion, 34 Stage Rd., Deerfield
Grafton County: Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, Mountain Club on Loon Resort & Spa, 90 Loon Mountain Rd., Lincoln
Coös County: Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa, 101 Mountain View Rd., Whitefield
Belknap County: Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, Lake Opechee Inn & Spa, 62 Doris Ray Court, Laconia
The schedule for each session is as follows:Open House: 5:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Public Information Session: Project Overview – 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Questions & Answers – 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Public Comments – 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
AMC Offers Initial Comments on Northern
After more than four and a half years, the Northern Pass Transmission (NPT) project has yet to receive any of the three permits it needs to proceed. But latest intelligence has it that the Department of Energy (DOE) will be releasing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) later this summer, triggering a series of public hearings as well as a written comment period. The DEIS, likely weighing in at more than 2,000 pages, analyzes both the route of the project as proposed by NPT as well as 24 alternatives. In addition, NPT has said that once the DEIS was made public, they would start the process to apply to the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), the second of the three permits required to build the project. In addition to the Presidential Permit required because the project crosses an international boundary, the federal permitting process also includes the need for the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF), following its analysis of data co-developed as part of the DOE's review, to issue a special use permit. The proposed project would cut through the western part of the WMNF.
The NH SEC process for reviewing and certifying the siting of energy projects is complex and adjudicatory, meaning it is run like a trial, with multiple lawyers representing competing interests, testimony by expert witnesses, cross examination, and more. Two years ago AMC along with colleague organizations like CLF, SPNHF, and TNC, worked with legislators to get important changes made to both the structure of the SEC itself, and to the rules under which it will consider applications. While the new SEC structure is in place - the Committee is now composed of nine members, including for the first time two public members - the new rules are not yet finalized. Given that the initial draft of these rules left much to be desired, AMC continues to work to improve them, and will be participating in technical sessions and more at the SEC over the coming months to ensure that the SEC will have clear standards for evaluating proposed energy projects. The rules must be finalized by November 1st, 2015, and will be applied to any pending project applications at the SEC as long as hearings have not yet commenced.
Keep an eye out for email action alerts, and stay tuned to this web page, for further information about the next opportunity to weigh in against the project as proposed.
AMC voices Northern Pass opposition to New England governors
Appalachian Mountain Club Vice-President for Conservation Susan Arnold on July 9, 2014, sent letters to New England governors expressing AMC’s opposition to the proposed Northern Pass electric transmission line, and asked the rest of New England’s heads of state to stand with New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, who has publicly stated her opposition to the project as proposed.
The letters were sent in anticipation of the 38th Annual Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, to be hosted by Governor Hassan at Bretton Woods, N.H., July 13-15.
“We in New England deserve better than Northern Pass, and most especially New Hampshire deserves better. We will not trade away the majestic beauty of New Hampshire. We will insist on smart, modern, and well-planned energy projects that protect our invaluable natural and scenic resources, not compromise them,” Arnold wrote, in part.
Similar letters were sent to the governors of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, and Vermont. Read the letter to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick here and learn more about Northern Pass here.Appalachian Trail: Impact of the Northern Pass
The Appalachian Mountain Club continues to oppose the Northern Pass electric transmission line as proposed for several reasons. AMC is especially concerned about how the project would compromise public resources and adversely impact places of regional and national significance, including the White Mountain National Forest and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Watch this short video to see how Northern Pass could change your hiking experience.See Northern Pass Through a Child's Eyes
The Appalachian Mountain Club is opposed to the Northern Pass proposal to erect 1,500 new electrical transmission towers through 185 miles of some of New Hampshire's most environmentally sensitive and scenic mountains, ridges, valleys, farms and forests. If this unnecessary and destructive project is approved, the children of today will be living with its consequences for their entire lives.
Through a new partnership with the Conservation Media Group (CMG), a non-profit group of filmmakers and conservationists, we'll be collaborating with our partners and distributing a range of videos to AMC supporters and New Hampshire residents.
How can you do your part? Take a few moments to hear from Tucker on the implications of the Northern Pass proposal from a 7-year-old's perspective. Then sign the petition asking Governor Hassan to take a stronger stand in opposition to Northern Pass. Tell her, "if Northern Pass does not agree to bury power lines, it should be stopped.”
AMC Releases Video Depicting Visual Impact of Northern Pass Planned Route
The area up to a half of a mile out on either side of the transmission line is shown, including the location and heights of new towers and existing ones that would be enlarged or moved. View the video >>
The Appalachian Mountain Club opposes the Northern Pass project in New Hampshire, a 186-mile transmission line that will visually impact the White Mountain National Forest, Appalachian Trail, and over 95,000 acres throughout the state. Consistent with its energy policy. AMC has intervened in the permitting process in opposition to the project as proposed and is working with partners to raise concern about its visual, environmental, and economic impacts.
In late June 2013 after two years of delay, Northern Pass finally announced its preferred route for the northernmost 74 miles of its proposed 186-mile transmission line corridor. While Northern Pass has tried to promote this as a "new" and "better" route in a massive media campaign across New Hampshire, in fact, it is neither. The fundamental problems with the route in its entirety remain, as the project will still adversely impact the White Mountain National Forest, Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Franconia Notch State Park, and more. AMC will continue to work with partners to raise concerns about the project, and will be performing a new visual impact analysis to take into account the more detailed information about tower heights and placement Northern Pass has included in its amended application to the Department of Energy.Please keep an eye on this space as well for information about public comment opportunities, or join our Conservation Action Network to receive regular updates on Northern Pass.