FINAL HEARINGS UPDATE
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) continues its final hearings on the Northern Pass project, including discussions with construction experts. This month’s hearings began on May 1 with the project’s panel of witnesses answering questions and providing details about underground and overhead construction, traffic management, and outreach to local communities and businesses. The panel also discussed jobs and the project’s commitment to hire local workers.
“Transporting heavy equipment is very expensive, so excavators, bulldozers, dump trucks, all that will be locally sourced as much as possible to contain costs,” said Samuel Johnson, lead project manager for Northern Pass, according to reports in the New Hampshire Union Leader.
The construction panel will resume on May 31, followed by testimony from Julia Frayer, who will speak about her analysis of the economic and environmental impacts of Northern Pass. Following Frayer, a panel of environmental witnesses will discuss the numerous environmental studies conducted along the route, as well as the steps Northern Pass will take to avoid or mitigate impacts.
The final hearings, which began in April, are the last phase of the state permitting process before the SEC returns its decision on the project. Thus far, the SEC has heard from witnesses about the technical, managerial, and financial capabilities of the project, the Forward NH Plan, and how the project relates to public health and safety and system reliability.
What’s next for Northern Pass
Forward NH Fund Officially Formed
Earlier this year, Northern Pass took steps to formally create the Forward NH Fund as an independent, nonprofit entity. The Fund will manage and allocate $200 million, in the form of loans and grants, to targeted programs that support the areas of community betterment, clean energy innovation, tourism, and economic development. Funding will occur over 20 years, with $10 million contributed to the Fund each year.
The Forward NH Fund will be governed by a Board of Directors and Advisory Boards, made up of municipal, community and business leaders, representatives of clean energy and environmental organizations, and North Country leaders. It will be the task of the Advisory Boards to review funding requests and make recommendations to the Board of Directors for approval of those projects that align with the funding priorities. The Advisory Boards will consider proposals from a wide range of organizations, including municipalities, non-profit groups, businesses, and residents.
$200 million in loans and grants for community betterment, clean energy innovation, economic development, and tourism projects throughout NH, with an emphasis on projects in the North Country.
The Forward NH Fund was announced in 2015 as part of the Forward NH Plan, which included a number of economic and environmental benefits specific to New Hampshire. The Fund will begin operations once Northern Pass has received all necessary permits and the line is in service. Questions about the Fund can be directed to Northern Pass at 1-800-286-7305 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northern Pass Reaches Out to Businesses Along Underground Route
Northern Pass has proposed its transmission line be buried for a total of 60 miles under public roadways in parts of Coös and Grafton counties. Although construction will not begin until Northern Pass has received all necessary federal and state approvals, we understand that owners may have questions about how the project could affect their businesses. Last month, the project sent letters to more than 250 businesses located along the underground portion of the route to begin a conversation about how Northern Pass can address any concerns they might have about the underground construction phase of the project.
The letters also offered business owners information about the work Northern Pass representatives are doing now to proactively address concerns, including developing plans to ensure businesses and property owners have continued access during construction, taking into consideration other activity and events in the community, and ensuring roads that are disturbed during construction are restored to the same or better conditions. The project is dedicated to taking a personalized approach to protect the interests of businesses and property owners, and will meet and continually communicate with them before, during and after construction to respond to their concerns.