The final witnesses for Northern Pass completed their testimony before the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) on Monday, marking the conclusion of Northern Pass’ witness presentation before the SEC. Northern Pass presented 25 witnesses over 43 hearing days, describing in detail the following aspects of the project.
Forward NH, Project Route, Clean Energy RFP Financial
Public Health & Safety System Reliability
Tourism Property Taxes
Property Values Historical/Archeological
Aesthetics Orderly Development
The SEC also heard from members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) last week, who testified about the job opportunities available for New Hampshire workers, as well as Allen Bouthillier, Lancaster business owner and member of the Coös County Business and Employers Group, who spoke about the economic opportunities Northern Pass will bring to the North Country.
The Counsel for the Public and intervenors are set to begin presenting their witness testimony later this week.
Other Recent Project Milestones include:
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) today began hearing testimony from President of Normandeau Associates and former New England Regional Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Robert Varney about his review of Northern Pass and how it relates to the orderly development of New Hampshire. Below is more information about Varney and a summary of his findings, provided in his pre-filed testimony submitted to the SEC.
ROBERT VARNEY is the President of Normandeau Associates, an environmental science consulting firm based in Bedford, where he began in 2009 as Executive Vice President. He served nearly eight years as Regional Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, New England; as the Executive Director of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission and the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission; as senior planner at the Lakes Region Planning Commission; as the Commissioner of the NH Department of Environmental Services from 1989 to 2001; and as Chairman of the NH Site Evaluation Committee for that same 12-year period. In addition, Mr. Varney has worked on initiatives associated with climate change, energy efficiency and renewable energy, integration of energy and environmental programs, and restoration of rivers, lakes, and coastal areas. He will speak on the impact the Northern Pass Transmission Project will have on air quality and the project’s consistency with the goals of state, regional, and national air quality and climate change policies.
For More Information:
Northern Pass’ application to the NH Site Evaluation Committee; Vol. II; Pre-Filed Testimony; Varney
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) issued an order yesterday outlining procedures for the rest of the Northern Pass hearing schedule that could affect the date of the final decision. We appreciate the SEC’s efforts to ensure the remainder of the hearings are not, as they state, “bogged down by unnecessary and inefficient friendly cross-examination.” The SEC further concludes that it would be “unreasonable” to accept the amount of time requested by interveners. We are encouraged that the SEC is taking steps to ensure efficiency for the balance of the proceedings and remain hopeful that the process will be complete earlier than the recently announced March deadline.
Excerpts from the procedural order:
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) will today hear from Terry DeWan and Jessica Kimball of Terrence J. DeWan & Associates, a landscape architecture and planning firm located in Yarmouth, Maine. Both conducted research and compiled data that was submitted as part of the Northern Pass’ state application, including view simulations along the proposed route. Northern Pass has made the photo simulations of the proposed route available on its website.
The NH Site Evaluation Committee today voted to extend the deadline for their final written decision on Northern Pass by six months, to March 31, 2018.
Northern Pass is disappointed in today’s decision considering this review process was already extended by nine months, from what was originally a 12-month process under recently enacted NH law.
We’re encouraged by the SEC’s willingness to pursue options for concluding the review in advance of the new deadline.
We remain confident in our ability to achieve a 2020 in-service date. Further, we are convinced that we have submitted the most mature project into the Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP and we continue to believe that we will be in a position to start construction in the second quarter of 2018.
Northern Pass Achieves Key Permitting Milestone
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for Northern Pass on August 10, concluding the project’s proposed route is the “preferred alternative.” The final EIS also stated that Northern Pass provides substantial environmental and economic benefits for New Hampshire and the region and will result in only minimal impacts. Required by the National Environmental Policy Act, the FEIS is the result of years of review of project environmental impacts and reflects the careful consideration of thousands of comments submitted by key stakeholders and the public.
Northern Pass is now awaiting the issuance of its federal permits, including DOE’s Presidential Permit, a Special Use Permit from the U.S. Forest Service, and the Section 404 Permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Northern Pass has already received the final permitting decisions from New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services, Public Utilities Commissions and Department of Transportation, and continued with final hearings before the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee in August.
Conclusions from the Final Environmental Impact Statement
REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
MEETING THE REGION’S ENERGY NEEDS
ECONOMIC BOOST FOR N.H.
OTHER BENEFITS FOR N.H. In addition to the benefits highlighted in the FEIS, Northern Pass will provide — and in some cases has already provided — significant investment in on-the-ground conservation and economic development programs.
What’s Next for Northern Pass
Site Tours Along North Country, Underground Route
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) recently toured a number of sites along the proposed Northern Pass routes. The visits, held on July 27 and 28, included stops in Pittsburg, Clarksville, Stewartstown, Dummer, Stark, Lancaster, Bethlehem, Franconia, Easton and Woodstock.
The locations of these stops were proposed by Counsel for the Public in a request that the SEC consider viewing portions of the proposed underground burial route as well as proposed additional above-ground sites in northern New Hampshire.
The July visits were in addition to four days of site visits held in March 2016 that included stops in Pittsburg, Clarksville, Stewartstown, Colebrook, Stark, Lancaster, Whitefield, Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Bristol, Franklin, Canterbury, Concord, Pembroke, Allenstown and Deerfield.
Northern Pass Reaffirms Commitment to Hiring Local Workers First
Northern Pass has long been committed to hiring New Hampshire workers first for the construction of Northern Pass. Eversource, Northern Pass’ parent company, recently reaffirmed that commitment with a project labor agreement. On August 7, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) announced a finalized agreement that covers both union workers and non-union workers and businesses, including workers needed for the construction of access roads, logging and clearing, trucking and other key construction-related activities.
The announcement is positive news for New Hampshire’s electrical workers as Northern Pass now presents an opportunity for them to work on a project in their home state, closer to their family and friends.
Tiler Eaton of the IBEW said, “Given the size of this project and the number of trained electrical workers needed, we anticipate this project will not only fully utilize all available New Hampshire members, but will also provide work for hundreds of our members from Massachusetts.” You can read the announcement on the Northern Pass website in our Document Library, www.northernpass.us/document-library.htm.
The N.H. Site Evaluation Committee will hear testimony today from historical and archeological experts who conducted research about the route for Northern Pass. Below you will find information about these experts and information about their work.
CHERILYN WIDELL is principal of Widell Preservation Services in Chestertown, Maryland, and has worked in the field of historic preservation throughout the United States and internationally for 40 years. She was appointed by the Governor of California to serve as State Historic Preservation Officer with oversight of all aspects of historic resource protection throughout California. Ms. Widell also served as the federal preservation officer for the Presidio Trust—the federal agency responsible for the conversion of the Presidio of San Francisco from an Army post to a National Park—where she was responsible for agency compliance with federal regulations for more than 450 historic buildings and the archeological resources. Ms. Widell conducted assessments of the potential effects that the Northern Pass project may have on above-ground historic properties and cultural landscapes in New Hampshire.
VICTORIA BUNKER is the owner and principal investigator at Victoria Bunker, Inc., archeological consultants in Alton, NH. She has more than 35 years of experience in New England archeology, and is listed as qualified to conduct archeological surveys in New Hampshire by the NH Division of Historical Resources. In her career, Dr. Bunker has completed 750 projects relative to Section 106 compliance at Phase I, II and III level of study, and has conducted regional research surveys in the Lamprey, Merrimack, Pemigewasset and Mad River Valleys and throughout the White Mountain National Forest. She has authored numerous publications on New England archaeology and served the New Hampshire Archeological Society as President Emeritus, on the Board of Directors, and as past editor. Dr. Bunker conducted archaeological assessments for Northern Pass.
Facts at a Glance:
The review of the potential impact of the Northern Pass project on historic and archeological resources is required under the state’s energy project siting laws, and also by the U.S. DOE under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
For More Information:
Public input is an essential part of the permitting process for energy projects in New Hampshire. Over the last several years, Granite Staters have had many opportunities to provide state and federal officials with feedback about the Northern Pass proposal, with more opportunities still to come. Comments have been submitted in person and in writing to both the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee and the U.S. Department of Energy, agencies charged with reviewing and permitting the project.
Below is a list of public hearings which were held to provide information about the project and give residents an opportunity to meet with Northern Pass experts, as well as let state and federal officials know their thoughts on the project. These hearings are in addition to the written comments submitted to state and federal officials.
|NHSEC Meeting Summary|
|Event Name||Event Type||Date||Venue||Town||County|
|Public Information Session – Merrimack||Pre-Filing (SEC)
|9/2/2015||Grappone Conference Center||Concord||Merrimack|
|Public Information Session – Rockingham||Pre-Filing (SEC) *Open House||9/3/2015||Deerfield Fair Pavilion||Deerfield||Rockingham|
|Public Information Session – Grafton||Pre-Filing (SEC) *Open House||9/8/2015||Mountain Club on Loon Resort||Lincoln||Grafton|
|Public Information Session – Coos||Pre-Filing (SEC) *Open House||9/9/2015||Mountain View Grand||Whitefield||Coos|
|Public Information Session – Belknap||Pre-Filing (SEC) *Open House||9/10/2015||Lake Opechee Inn & Spa||Laconia||Belknap|
|Public Information Session – Merrimack||45-day Post Filing (SEC) *Open House||1/11/2016||Franklin Opera House||Franklin||Merrimack|
|Public Information Session – Rockingham||45-day Post Filing (SEC) *Open House||1/13/2016||Londonderry High School||Londonderry||Rockingham|
|Public Information Session – Belknap||45-day Post Filing (SEC) *Open House||1/14/2016||Lake Opechee Inn & Spa||Laconia||Belknap|
|Public Information Session – Coos||45-day Post Filing (SEC) *Open House||1/20/2016||Mountain View Grand||Whitefield||Coos|
|Public Information Session – Grafton||45-day Post Filing (SEC) *Open House||1/21/2016||Mountain Club on Loon Resort||Lincoln||Grafton|
|Public Information Session – Belknap||90-day Post Filing (SEC)||3/1/2016||Mill Falls at the Lake||Meredith||Belknap|
|Public Information Session – Coos||90-day Post Filing (SEC)||3/7/2016||Colebrook Elementary School||Colebrook||Coos|
|SEC Bus Tour||Bus Tour||3/7/2016||Coos (north)|
|SEC Bus Tour||Bus Tour||3/7/2016||Coos (south)|
|Public Information Session – Merrimack||90-day Post Filing (SEC)||3/10/2016||Grappone Conference Center||Concord||Merrimack
|Public Information Session – Grafton||90-day Post Filing (SEC)||3/14/2016||Plymouth State University||Holderness||Grafton|
|SEC Bus Tour||Bus Tour||3/14/2016||Merrimack|
|Public Information Session – Rockingham||90-day Post Filing (SEC)||3/16/2016||Deerfield Fair Pavilion||Deerfield||Rockingham|
|SEC Bus Tour||Bus Tour||3/16/2016||Merrimack (south)
|Public Information Session – Coos||Additional
|5/19/2016||Mountain View Grand||Whitefield||Coos|
|Public Information Session – Grafton||Additional
|6/23/2016||Plymouth High School||Plymouth||Grafton|
|Public Comment||Hearing||6/15/2017||49 Donavan St||Concord||Merrimack|
|Public Comment||Hearing||6/22/2017||49 Donavan St||Concord||Merrimack|
|Public Comment||Hearing||7/20/2017||49 Donavan St||Concord||Merrimack|
|SEC Bus Tour||Bus Tour||7/27/2017||Coos|
|SEC Bus Tour||Bus Tour||7/28/2017||Grafton|
USDOE Meeting Summary
|DOE Public Comment Hearing||Scoping Hearing (DOE)||10/6/2015||Grappone Conference Center||Concord||Merrimack|
|DOE Public Comment Hearing||Scoping Hearing (DOE)||10/7/2015||Mountain View Grand||Whitefield||Coos|
|DOE Public Comment Hearing||Scoping Hearing (DOE)||10/8/2015||Plymouth State University||Holderness||Grafton
|DOE Public Comment Hearing (jointly w/ SEC)||Scoping Hearing (DOE||3/7/2016||Colebrook Elementary School||Colebrook||Coos
|DOE Public Comment Hearing (jointly w/ SEC)||Scoping Hearing (DOE)||3/10/2016||Grappone Conference Center||Concord||Merrimack
|DOE Public Comment Hearing||Scoping Hearing (DOE)||3/9/2016||Waterville Valley Event Center||Waterville Valley||Grafton|
|DOE Public Comment Hearing||Scoping Hearing (DOE)||3/11/2016||Mountain View Grand||Whitefield||Coos|
One of the most direct and immediate benefits the communities along the proposed Northern Pass route will receive is increased property tax revenue. In its first full year of operation, the project will pay an estimated $35 million to $40 million in property taxes. Breaking this down into different categories, it will mean in the first year:
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. Once built, Northern Pass will represent 45 percent of the town’s overall property value and yield an estimated first-year payment for municipal and local school taxes of $858,361. That would bring an estimated first year homeowner tax benefit of up to $830 per $100,000 in home value.
Franklin City Manager Elizabeth Dragon said in her pre-filed testimony for the NH Site Evaluation Committee proceedings that the revenue from Northern Pass – between $3.2 million and $7 million – “will have a transformational effect on the City of Franklin.”
“In a community where one out of every two children is living at or below the poverty level, this is huge,” said Dragon. “Revenue from the taxes paid by Northern Pass Transmission will benefit the public by, amongst other things, allowing the city to better fund its schools and maintain its roads.”
Dragon went on to say that the city has been forced to convert some paved roads to dirt to save money, hindering economic development. By adding a substantial source of tax revenue, Franklin can begin to address these challenges, she said.
Here is the range of tax benefits for some other communities along the route.
Allenstown: $443,056 – $848,069
Bethlehem: $842,557 – $1.5 million
Concord: $639,908 – $982,958
Deerfield: $1.7 million – $2.7 million
Northumberland: $435,791 – $793,113
Plymouth: $716,431 – $1 million
Woodstock: $1 million – $1.9 million
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.