A Northern Pass expert will answer questions today about the project’s aesthetics and the efforts the project has made to reduce potential view impacts.
This session is similar to others that have been held in September as part of the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee’s ongoing review of Northern Pass, known as Technical Sessions. These informal hearings are an opportunity for the parties involved in the Northern Pass state review process to ask questions of the project. Thus far, a number of experts have been available to discuss a wide range of topics related to the project.
The expert scheduled to speak today is Terrence DeWan, the Principal and Founder of Terrence J. DeWan & Associates—a landscape architecture and planning firm located in Yarmouth, Maine. Over his career, Mr. DeWan has prepared more than 80 visual impact assessments on a wide variety of projects throughout New England, including power generation facilities, electrical transmission lines and substations, as well as the visual impact assessment for the Northern Pass Transmission Project.
Some of the key points that may be discussed include:
- A visual impact assessment, or VIA, is a systematic analysis of possible changes to the visible landscape resulting from proposed development activity, and the investigation of possible means to avoid, minimize or mitigate the effects of the change
- The Northern Pass VIA methodology follows a systematic path of inventory, analysis, and determination of effect. It is based upon established criteria developed by federal and state agencies over the past several decades
- Scenic resources are defined as publicly accessible places that have been recognized by local, regional, state, or national authorities for their scenic or recreation quality, and are visited by the general public, in part for the use, observation, enjoyment, and appreciation of natural, cultural, or visual qualities. All scenic resources that were identified within the Northern Pass project study area were mapped and added to a database for further evaluation
- Of the 525 scenic resources identified within three miles of the proposed Northern Pass route, none had overall visual impacts that were characterized as ‘high’, based on the observations and methodology used
- A significant number of mitigation measures have been incorporated into the planning and design of Northern Pass, including:
- Locating portions of the Project underground to avoid sensitive scenic resources, such as the White Mountain National Forest
- Using existing road rights-of-way (ROW) for the underground sections to minimize the need for new cleared transmission corridors
- Co-locating the majority of the transmission line in existing transmission corridors to minimize the amount of new corridors
- Using weathering steel monopole structures in certain areas, which are generally darker in color and have a hue that is more commonly found in the landscape, resulting in a decrease in color contrasts with the surrounding landscape. Monopole structures also have a thinner profile and a simpler appearance than lattice structures
- Locating new transmission structures in proximity to existing structures in certain locations to maintain the same spacing and avoid irregular linear patterns that can be caused by adjacent conductors being out of synch with each other
- Matching the materials used for both the relocated 115 kV structures and the proposed transmission structures to minimize contrasts in color and texture, and contribute to a sense of visual continuity within the corridor
- Relocating existing transmission and distribution lines within the existing corridors to provide adequate clearance for the proposed structures and minimize the amount of clearing necessary for their installation
- Northern Pass as a whole will not be a dominant feature in the landscape. The views from most of the scenic resources already contain evidence of existing human development, often prominently visible from the key observation points
- Northern Pass will not result in unreasonable adverse effects on aesthetics, to either the six subareas that were identified or to the approximately 900 square-mile Project Study Area as a whole
You can find additional information about the aesthetic aspects of the project, as well as Mr. Dewan’s pre-filed testimony from, on the Northern Pass website. Technical Sessions will continue into October. View a schedule of all the Technical Sessions here.