Posted on November 27th, 2013 by

Food for thought on this Thanksgiving

  1. Thanksgiving sidesRegional Energy Need – The operator of our electrical grid, ISO New England, predicts we’ll increase peak energy demand by 17% over the next decade, but the supply will drop as many outdated power plants close. New England needs to find nearly 6,000 megawatts of new power to replace more than 8,000 megawatts disappearing in the next few years. Northern Pass will bring 1,200 megawatts of clean, low-cost, renewable hydro-power into the picture.
  2. Benefits for NH – Northern Pass will bring low-cost, clean energy to New Hampshire and all of New England. Our state, specifically, will benefit from the creation of 1,200 new jobs over the construction period, a Jobs Creation Fund to spur sustainable employment beyond that, and $28 million in annual tax revenues to cities and towns along the transmission route.
  3. Energy Savings – Hydro-power is a lot less expensive than energy derived from fossil fuels. Having 1,200 MW of hydro in the mix will reduce wholesale energy prices by $25-$30 million a year for New Hampshire customers.
  4. Privately funded, no customer subsidy needed – Northern Pass is paid for entirely by investors, without any tax- or rate-payer money. This is laid out in a federally-approved “Transmission Service Agreement” between Northern Pass and Hyrdo-Quebec, the company that will lease the line to sell its hydro power to the New England market. Northern Pass is the only project in the region, either proposed or in the works, with this kind of agreement.
  5. Mostly constructed along existing Rights of Way – Transmission lines have been running from the North Country to southern New Hampshire for decades along a cleared and maintained Right of Way. More than 80% of the Northern Pass transmission project will be built either on this existing ROW, alongside the power lines that have existed for generations, or buried under state and public roads. The remainder of the project has been strategically relocated, on property owned or leased by Northern Pass, to minimize visual impact.
  6. Lowest greenhouse gas emission – The energy transmitted by the Northern Pass will help offset carbon emissions by up to 5 million tons annually be reducing our dependence on dirtier fossil fuels. Additionally, hydro in its own right is among the lowest emitter of CO2 of any power source, about the same as wind power. Solar panel generation emits 10x the greenhouse gasses per kilowatt hour, compared to hydro.
  7. Enough power to light up a million homes – 1,200 megawatts is a lot of power. How much, you ask? It’s the equivalent of the power put out by four natural gas power plants. Up to one million homes and businesses can be powered by 1,200 megawatts. That’s a lot of clean, green electricity.

Posted on November 27th, 2013 by

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Posted on January 10th, 2011 by

Wildlife biologists, wetland ecologists, archaeologists … Up to 60 experts in a variety of fields have been engaged in a significant data collection effort that will provide vital information to federal and state agencies tasked with evaluating The Northern Pass project.

Wetland Scientist Sean Casto delineating a series of beaver ponds in Thornton, NH.

Coordinated by Normandeau Associates, an environmental consulting firm out of Bedford, NH, the team of scientists has been focused on sections of the project’s preliminary preferred route that follow existing rights of way. With permission from individual landowners, the team is now beginning to collect data on properties where expanded or new rights of way may be needed.  Experts are identifying and logging information such as the presence of certain plants and animals, wetlands, wildlife habitats, and areas of archaeological and/or historic sensitivity.

Along with public comments and information available from state and federal agencies, these data will be used to help produce the Department of Energy’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is required as part of a federal and state review process. Data collected by Normandeau will also be used to help avoid and minimize environmental impacts along the proposed route.

Wildlife Biologist Dr. Sarah Barnum collecting data along an existing right of way in the White Mountain National Forest.

“There will be a very thoughtful and careful evaluation of environmental impacts and alternatives associated with this project,” said Bob Varney, senior vice president at Normandeau. “Field staff have been walking the existing rights of way, recording and mapping resources along the way.”

Burns & McDonnell, the firm hired by Northern Pass Transmission to conduct the preliminary routing and design studies for the project, relied primarily on information available from non-governmental organizations and state and federal agencies to help evaluate numerous alternative routes, and to avoid/minimize impacts in determining the project’s preliminary preferred route.

Normandeau scientists are picking up where they left off, using this information as a starting point for the collection of field data that will provide even greater detail about potential environmental impacts. Part of Normandeau’s mission is the mapping of wetlands and other sensitive resources.

“Everyone needs to know exactly where these resources are so that the project can try to avoid them, if possible,” said Varney. “The GIS data from Burns & McDonnell is downloaded into GPS units for our field personnel, so they know exactly where the edges of the rights of way are located. The GPS units allow us to be very precise in evaluating our study corridors.”

Normandeau scientists will return to the field in the coming months to collect information that is seasonally dependent, such as the presence of certain animal tracks and vernal pools. According to Varney, it is essential for the scientists to provide a complete and comprehensive view of all potential impacts associated with the project.


Posted on January 10th, 2011 by

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