Over the last year, Northern Pass contractors conducted archeological field investigations along the Project’s proposed route. Archeological investigations included shovel test sampling for resources in various locations along the existing transmission corridor, and along public roads. The top-most layer, sometimes referred to as the “sod cap”, is removed, and the soil beneath is sifted to search for artifacts.
Once the investigation is completed the soil is backfilled, tamped down, and the top-most layer replaced. This work, which is nearly complete, is required for the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106 process, and for the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC). All findings are considered culturally sensitive and confidential.
The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC) announced recently that Northern Pass has the technical, managerial and financial expertise to operate as a public utility once the project is fully permitted, and that it is in the public good for the project to do so. As a public utility, Northern Pass operations will be subject to the jurisdiction of the NHPUC once the project is in service. This is consistent with how other transmission owners operate in New Hampshire.
“This approval is another milestone for the project, which promises to deliver significant environmental, economic, and energy cost savings to New Hampshire,” said Bill Quinlan of Eversource. “We appreciate the excellent work by the NHPUC staff and Commissioners in evaluating the project, and look forward to further dialogue as the evaluation process continues.”
In addition to granting Northern Pass public utility status, the NHPUC order formalizes Northern Pass’ commitment to provide $20 million ($2 million a year for 10 years) for programs or initiatives approved by the NHPUC that advance clean energy innovation, community betterment, and economic development in New Hampshire, including energy efficiency programs. The funding for these initiatives will come from the Forward NH Fund, which will be established by Northern Pass to provide unique benefits to New Hampshire.
This approval by the NHPUC follows another key regulatory milestone for Northern Pass. In July, Northern Pass was granted an I.3.9 approval by the regional grid operator, ISO New England, which officially determined that the clean energy project can reliably interconnect with the regional electric grid. You can view the NHPUC order on Public Utility Status on the agency’s website.
Northern Pass recently completed the Technical Session review phase of the state permitting process. These informal hearings were an opportunity for the parties involved in the Northern Pass state permitting process to ask questions of the project and are part of the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee’s (SEC) ongoing review of the project.
The SEC review process will soon move on to Northern Pass’ review of testimony and information provided by experts and witnesses representing the Counsel for the Public and others. For more information about the SEC process, go to the SEC docket on Northern Pass, posted on the agency’s website. You can also find updates about the project and its permitting process on the Northern Pass Project Journal.
A joint transmission project between Eversource and National Grid is putting local companies and residents to work in the Merrimack Valley, while the launch of a lineworker certificate program at Manchester Community College is training people for future projects.
A number of New Hampshire-based companies and workers were selected to begin the first phase of construction on the Merrimack Valley Reliability Project (MVRP), a transmission project between Londonderry and Tewksbury, Massachusetts. Local companies include Triple L Trucking and Greymont Trucking of Henniker, M & R Wood Recycling of Derry, A.B. Excavating of Lancaster, U.S. Silt & Site Supply of Bow, Redimix Companies Inc. of Manchester, New England Mat Company of Winchester, and Busby Construction of Atkinson. Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 104 and other local unions will also provide workers for the project. Non-union workers will also be employed in a variety of roles.
Eversource also announced in October its partnership with Manchester Community College (MCC), the National Electrical Contractors Association, and IBEW Local Unions 104 and 1837 to offer a certification program that will help prepare the next generation of electrical lineworkers in New Hampshire. The partnership offers a limited number of candidates valuable training and the opportunity to progress into Eversource’s paid apprenticeship program.
“This new program fits perfectly into our philosophy of giving students hands-on learning opportunities which lead directly to well-paying jobs in the market,” says Susan Huard, President of Manchester Community College. “This will be an attractive new program for those looking to advance their skills, pursue a new career path with Eversource, or work toward completing a degree.”
For more information about the MCC lineworker certificate program or the Eversource apprenticeship program go to the company website.
New Hampshire resident Michael Van Natta sees a lot of upside when it comes to Northern Pass, like stabilizing energy costs, underground lines reducing potential view impacts, and funding for communities in New Hampshire.
“The benefits package that’s going to communities, if you want to support New Hampshire, you should support it,” said Van Natta. “It’s money coming in to these communities that don’t have a lot of funding.”
To hear more of what Van Natta said, go to the Northern Pass videos page.