Northern Pass Receives Key Approvals from NH Environmental Agency
Northern Pass reached another significant milestone on March 1 when the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) issued four key approvals of the project. DES’s decisions pertained to the Wetland, Shoreland and Alteration of Terrain permits, and the 401 Water Quality Certificate. As a condition included in this approval, Northern Pass agrees to set aside more than 1,600 acres throughout the state to preserve key habitats and species, such as high-elevation forest land and the Karner blue butterfly. Northern Pass will also have to make payments totaling $3.3 million to the State’s Aquatic Resources Mitigation Fund to be used for conservation efforts selected by the state.
The approvals are essential components of the state siting process being conducted by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), and according to DES, mark the conclusion of the agency’s review of the project’s siting application. The SEC is scheduled to render a final decision on the Northern Pass application later this year.
NORTHERN PASS MOVES AHEAD WITH PERMITTING PROCESS
The state’s review of Northern Pass continued in the first months of 2017 which were focused on technical sessions completed on March 24, 2017.
The SEC began the latest round of technical sessions on January 18, which provided Northern Pass an opportunity to review testimony and question witnesses for the Counsel for the Public and interveners. The Technical Sessions are part of the larger discovery phase of the state approval process and are a precursor to the adjudicative hearings, scheduled to begin in April.
The adjudicative hearings are formal legal proceedings similar to those you might find in a court of law. During the hearings, testimony will be presented by Northern Pass and project experts to the SEC, including data on benefits, construction procedures, environmental impact, and other aspects of the project, which will be subject to cross-examination. Witnesses for the Counsel for the Public and interveners will also provide testimony at this stage. The dates of the adjudicative hearings are available on the SEC website under the Northern Pass docket.
For more information and an outline of the New Hampshire permitting process, go to www.northernpass.us/permitting-siting.htm.
LOCAL TAXES AND NORTHERN PASS
An integral part of the Northern Pass proposal will be the investment in energy infrastructure in the communities along the route through the construction of the project. These investments will bring a large source of clean energy to the region, but will also result in increased tax revenue in the host communities.
Recently, Northern Pass reached out to all of the incorporated communities along the route to notify them of the expected tax revenue the project will bring over the next 20 years. In Stewartstown, for example, the estimated Northern Pass investment (which is an increase to the town’s tax base) in the first year after construction will be $69.9 million. That will yield a first-year payment for municipal and local school taxes of $858,361.
The total Northern Pass tax payment in all of the incorporated towns in the first-year after operations begin will be nearly $23 million. This does not include tax payments that will be made to the counties that host the project or to the state.
To learn more about the infrastructure investment Northern Pass will be making in your community and the tax payments that will result, go to www.northernpass.us/towns.htm.
Heavy Equipment Simulator Has Benefited More Than 90 North Country Students
The Arthur T. Paradice Career Technical Education Center at the White Mountains Regional High School (CTE) received a grant through the Coös County Jobs Creation Fund last year that enabled the school to purchase an Oryx excavator simulator for heavy equipment training in a number of CTE classes. Since its purchase, 90 freshmen have used the simulator in a Career Explorations class, learning how to use the basic controls to virtually grade land, dig trenches, and load simulated trucks.
In addition to this introductory course, the excavator simulator has been used by students in the school’s Agricultural Mechanics, Introduction to Mechanics, and Horticulture classes, and by the Future Farmers of America student organization. The simulator has been an effective tool in teaching students the physical science behind heavy equipment operation, how the equipment functions, and how it is repaired. These classes are also instrumental in laying the groundwork for the hydraulics units that are taught in classes at the CTE Center.
CTE Director Robert Scott, CTE Teacher Dana Graham, and Superintendent of SAU #36 Marion Anastasia, recently wrote a letter to the SEC touting the simulator’s success in the classroom.
“It is evident the Oryx simulator has already presented many benefits to the students of White Mountains Regional High School in a very short time period,” they wrote. “As we continue to refine the use of the simulator, we realize the potential of it becoming a valuable asset to the school as well as to the community.”
In the coming years, the school hopes to expand the use of the machine, such as adding components that simulate the use of a bulldozer, front end loader and other heavy equipment. The school is also looking to create partnerships with local industry and offer adult education training.
“By adding additional modules to the simulator, it would prepare our students in obtaining basic skills of heavy equipment operation on more than just an excavator,” the school officials wrote. “Local businesses are looking for skilled employees that have knowledge in the operation of multiple types of heavy equipment. Creating partnerships with local industries will result in two benefits for the school and community.”