The Northern Pass announced its new, preferred route on June 27, 2013 and we have now submitted to the Department of Energy an amended application for a Presidential Permit. The amended application reflects key developments in the project since the filing of the original application on October 14, 2010, including:
- Our ability to respond to the growing concern in New England about the impact on reliability caused by the over-reliance on natural gas-fired power generation in the region, and the substantially enhanced greenhouse gas reduction targets that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative recently recommended for adoption by participating states and that the New Hampshire legislature has voted to approve.
- Our response to public feedback about both the potential visual impacts of the project and potential impacts on property rights. We have selected a new proposed route for a portion of the North Section of the project, the approximately 40 mile stretch where there is no existing transmission right of way (ROW). From the U.S./Canadian border, the proposed route now goes east and south through a less densely populated area of New Hampshire than the original route. Specifically, the towns in this portion of the North Section have a 70 percent lower population than the towns in which the previously proposed route was located. In addition, the new portion of the North Section is now in substantial part located on land that an affiliate of Northern Pass has purchased or leased, or obtained an easement from willing landowners. Compared to the original preferred route, this portion of the proposed route uses 155 fewer parcels of land (an 83 percent decrease). It also includes two underground segments, 2,300 feet and 7.5 miles in length respectively, and it includes the use of additional existing ROW in the towns of Dummer, Stark and Northumberland. We focused on areas where there were landowners willing to sell or lease land, or grant an easement for project use. The new proposed route in the North Section, where there is no existing transmission ROW, reflects our substantial success in working with willing landowners to arrive at mutually acceptable terms for the creation of a new transmission corridor.
- Our decision to abandon all previously identified alternative segments for the project, with the exception of:
- We have determined that the project can meet the applicable requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the construction of transmission structures near airports. This allows us to locate the project along the existing ROW near the Concord Airport, which is a segment originally designated as an alternative route in the South Section. Thus, we no longer need or support use of the route through Concord, Pembroke and Chichester, which was originally designated part of the preferred route in order to avoid the area near the airport.
- Detailed information about structure heights and design and visual simulations that reflect the transmission structures in selected locations along the route.
- One alternative underground routing option in the new portion of the North Section, located on property that Renewable Properties Inc., a Northern Pass affiliate, has acquired, with the exception of approximately 100 feet that is privately owned and subject to a conservation easement (Connecticut Lakes Headwaters conservation area). The alternative would cross under this 100 foot stretch of private land and not disturb in any way the above ground terrain or landscape.
- We realize this alternative is both politically and emotionally sensitive; however, the federal NEPA process requires an alternatives analysis, and it is important to list any plan that was thoroughly researched and that could be legally and technical viable, as is the case with this alternative;
- However, we do not have the authority to use Connecticut Lakes Headwaters property. Any use of it depends on consent of Connecticut Lakes Realty Trust (CLRT) and New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development (NHDRED);
- And, we have made no formal request to the State of NH to use the CT Lakes property.
- Additional information on the potential environmental impacts of the project and proposed measures to avoid or mitigate those impacts; and, additional information on the historic and cultural resources in the general area of the project, including the results of preliminary archeological surveys.
The amended application has been structured to allow DOE, cooperating federal agencies and interested members of the public to find in a single document both previously submitted and new information relevant to the project as reconfigured. The amended application thus can be used in place of the application that we originally submitted on October 14, 2010, and supplemented on February 15, 2011, and April 12, 2011.
Both the DOE Amended Application and its accompanying exhibits can be found in our Document Library.