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.
Northern Pass proponents recently voiced their support for the project during two public comment sessions in Concord, hosted by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC). The next public comment session held by the SEC will be on Wednesday, Aug. 30 from 5-8 p.m. Your voice matters in this process and we appreciate all who have spoken publicly or have sent a written comment. If you would like to submit a written comment to the SEC, send it to:
New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee
Pamela G. Monroe, Administrator
21 South Fruit Street, Suite 10
Concord, NH 03301
Phone: 603-271-2435 Fax: 603-271-3878
Here are some examples of statements the SEC heard during the recent public comment sessions:
Steven Binette, owner of Ray’s Electric and GC, Inc. of Berlin, NH:
“Over the last decade, we’ve seen a large decline in commercial and industrial electrical projects and we’ve had to expand into general contracting and excavation. Northern Pass and the Eversource president have reached out to local contractors to keep us updated on this project so we can work on a project this area so desperately needs.”
Meredith Briggs, Deerfield resident:
“I am confident Deerfield will benefit from this project. I believe it will create jobs. I do believe it will create tax revenue. If we work together, we can arrive at a solution we can all live with.”
John Dumais, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Grocers Association:
“Our position has always been to encourage any responsible means to lower electricity costs. The only plausible relief in the near future is Northern Pass.”
Tracy Hatch, Nashua Chamber of Commerce:
“On behalf of 600 plus members of the Chamber, I am here to express strong support for the Northern Pass project. The Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce is made up of large and small businesses…Despite all the surface differences, they all have one common concern: the cost and stable supply of energy…Our economy and our businesses need reliable stable energy.”
Mike Skelton, President of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce:
“Our support is rooted in the belief of the need to lower the cost of energy in New England and the impact it has on the economy. There is no perfect source of energy. Whether it’s a power plant and transmission line or a solar installation – they all have benefits and they all include potential impacts. The key question is do the benefits ultimately outweigh the potential impacts? Our view after many years is that Northern Pass, the way it has evolved, the answer is yes.”
Anastasia Park, Lee, NH:
“I am an iron worker by trade and I am a journeyman and what I am very tired of doing is traveling to Massachusetts for work. In the four years I’ve been working as an iron worker, I’ve had two jobs in this beautiful state. It kills me. We are losing business to the high cost of electricity in this state. People don’t want to build here because they can’t afford to stay here. The construction jobs are the backbone of the economy. When we build (Northern Pass) here we can spend our money back here.”
Mark Bailey, Director of Facilities for BAE Systems:
“BAE Systems, and all of New Hampshire businesses, need low-cost, reliable energy in the state to remain competitive in a global marketplace. The Northern Pass Project provides clean, renewable hydroelectric power needed to improve our region’s energy deficit, and it does so while addressing environmental impact concerns. This is why BAE Systems stands with a group of roughly 50 New Hampshire businesses in support of the New Hampshire — the Northern Pass.”
Tad Dziemian, Owner of Neighborhood Energy of New England
“I am here today to fully, without any question, and convicted with passion, that I support the Northern Pass, because I get firsthand feedback, primarily of complaints from my clients, regarding the high cost of electricity. Shamefully, our region holds the dubious distinction of having each state in the top ten of our wonderful nation in terms of having the highest cost of energy.”
Karner blue butterfly (photo: USFWS)
New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) hearings on Northern Pass resumed in June, focusing on a wide range of issues related to the project. The SEC also heard comments from the public during two half-days of public hearings, offering residents and business owners another chance to let state officials know their thoughts on the project.
The construction panel resumed on May 31 with testimony about the efforts Northern Pass has made to reach out to communities and businesses along the route to address their concerns, such as traffic management and emergency vehicle access. The construction panel concluded on June 2.
Economic Benefits and Cleaner Air
Julia Frayer, a Managing Director with London Economics, spoke about the benefits Northern Pass is expected to bring to New Hampshire and the region, including 2,600 jobs in New Hampshire at the peak of construction, lowering energy costs in New Hampshire by $62 million annually, and increasing New Hampshire’s gross domestic product (GDP) by $2.2 billion through 2030.
Frayer also spoke about the project’s environmental benefits, particularly the reduction in air pollution and carbon emissions. Hydropower from Northern Pass will help reduce the region’s reliance on natural gas and other fossil fuels, which will in turn lower CO2 emissions by an estimated 3.2 million metric tons.
A panel of five environmental experts spoke about their area of study along the Northern Pass route. Topics covered included the project’s efforts to reduce and mitigate impacts to wetlands, streams, vernal pools, wildlife, and other natural and cultural resources along the route, as well as the efforts Northern Pass made to work with state and federal agencies on these environmental issues.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR NORTHERN PASS
Northern Pass Mitigation Plan Expands on Important Habitat
Northern Pass has worked with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to identify land that could be part of the Northern Pass mitigation plan and would also provide additional benefits to other conservation and restoration efforts around the state. One such site is a 7-acre parcel in Concord that will protect a portion of the Soucook River shoreline and establish additional protected habitat for the endangered Karner blue butterfly.
This species can be found in the Upper Midwest and Northeast in sandy scrubland such as pine barrens and oak savannahs. The Karner blue butterfly is New Hampshire’s state butterfly, but the only place it is known to live in the state is the pine barrens near the Concord airport. The parcel Northern Pass has allocated for conservation is adjacent to an existing 28-acre conservation easement specifically dedicated to establishing Karner blue butterfly habitat, and will help expand the efforts already underway to preserve this species.
For more information on the Karner blue butterfly conservation easement in Concord and the efforts to protect this species, go to www.wildlife.state.nh.us/merrimack/karnerblue.html.
WORKING WITH COMMUNITIES ALONG THE ROUTE
Northern Pass reached out to the cities and towns along the proposed route earlier this year to discuss concerns they might have regarding the construction of the project. Northern Pass will begin construction of the overhead and underground portions of the line soon after all state and federal approvals have been obtained, including from the SEC.
Some concerns that have already been raised by communities include the project’s hours of operation during construction, impact to traffic and the condition of local roads, as well as maintaining emergency vehicle access. Northern Pass has agreed to work with cities and towns to address their individual concerns, from avoiding work during special town events to taking care to restore roads to their original condition or better.
From these discussions, Northern Pass has executed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with two communities — Franklin and Lancaster — and is currently in talks with a number of other communities about designing their own MOUs. The project hopes to continue discussions as the permitting phase moves forward and to learn more about the needs and concerns of each community along the route.
LOOKING NEXT DOOR: WHAT A PROJECT IN MAINE CAN TELL US ABOUT NORTHERN PASS
The SEC’s review of the Northern Pass includes discussions about the jobs the project will bring to the state. Northern Pass conducted a study that shows 2,600 jobs will be created and we have pledged to hire New Hampshire workers first whenever possible. There will also be a wider economic boost from the project, from workers buying gas and food from businesses along the route to the project relying on local suppliers to provide some of the materials for the project.
To see how a transmission line project can positively impact the local economy, the Maine
Power Reliability Program (MPRP), completed in 2015, is a good example. The $1.4 billion project included power line and substation upgrades in 75 communities, and represents a host of economic benefits.
A wide variety of local businesses benefited from MPRP, beyond those that directly supplied the project. Convenience stores, gas stations, motor inns and hotels, and diners and restaurants saw an increase in business as well. Similarly in New Hampshire, Northern Pass has already hired New Hampshire companies and workers during the permitting stages, will continue to create jobs during construction, and will provide millions of dollars in revenue to local communities along the route.
MPRP also shed some light on how the tourism industry reacts to transmission line projects. According to the Maine Office of Tourism, revenue from tourism has increased in that state every year since 2012, both during and after the construction of MPRP. In fact, Maine set a tourism record in 2015 and again in 2016, with increases in restaurant and lodging revenue seen both on the coast and inland.
MAINE POWER RELIABILITY PROGRAM (MPRP)
The project was also expected to:
During its design phase, Northern Pass sought to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands along the proposed route whenever possible. However, environmental studies revealed that some wetlands will be impacted from construction and operation of the project. Working with various agencies, and in accordance with state and federal law, Northern Pass has dedicated 1,627 acres of approved land for wetland mitigation – exceeding the state and federal requirements for wetlands mitigation the project must meet.
Northern Pass has worked with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES), and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to identify land that could be part of the Northern Pass mitigation plan and would also provide additional benefits to other conservation and restoration efforts around the state. The mitigation package includes eight conservation sites which are valued for having numerous wetlands, floodplains, streams, vernal pools, or are connected to other conservation lands.
Included in the 1,627 acres of conservation land is a 7-acre parcel in Concord that will be used to establish additional protected habitat for the endangered Karner blue butterfly. Although it is New Hampshire’s state butterfly, the only place where Karner blue butterflies are known to live in the state is the Pine Barrens near the Concord airport. The Northern Pass parcel is located adjacent to an existing 28-acre conservation easement specifically dedicated to establishing Karner blue butterfly habitat, and will help expand the efforts already underway to preserve this species.
Highest Ranked Habitats
Much of the land Northern Pass has dedicated to the mitigation package specifically addresses local and regional conservation goals. They include corridors for lynx, marten and other wildlife, habitats for moose and Northern long-eared bat, deer wintering areas, large forest blocks for forest breeding birds, and a mix of land types from wetlands and early successional forests to mature forests and high-elevation habitat. Six sites, totaling 1,533 acres are located in the North Country and are adjacent to or near other undeveloped land that offer opportunities for hiking, hunting and fishing.
The sites in the mitigation plan stand out for the significant conservation opportunities they present the state. Approximately 700 acres are considered Highest Ranked Habitat, a determination made by New Hampshire Fish and Game. This designation indicates land that contains wildlife habitat in the best relative condition in the state or region, considering the location of key species, the landscape setting, and the impact humans have had on the area.
The following nine parcels will be preserved as part of the Northern Pass Wetland Mitigation Package:
|Hall Stream Road Site||Pittsburg||46.5 acres||Highest Ranked Habitat, with forest and farmland|
|Connecticut River Site||Pittsburg||550 acres||Highest Ranked Habitat with high-quality wetlands|
|Haynes Road Site||Clarksville||153 acres||Highest Ranked Habitat, Deer Wintering Area|
|Wiswell Road Site||Clarksville||211 acres||Highest Ranked Habitat, offers protection for key species|
|Roaring Brook Headwaters Site||Dixville/Columbia||444 acres||High elevation, adjacent to large contiguous parcels, including Nash Stream Forest|
|Cedar Brook Site||Stewartstown||129 acres||Highest Ranked Habitat, high-quality wetland|
|Brush Road Forest Site||Pembroke||87 acres||Highest Ranked Habitat, vernal pools, preserves open space near urban area|
|*Pine Barrens||Concord||7||Pine Barrens is a Highest Ranked Habitat in the Region|
Supporting NH’s Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund
As part of its wetlands permitting package, Northern Pass will also make a $3 million payment to NH’s Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund (ARM) to cover impacts in the towns and watersheds outside of the communities where the Northern Pass conservation lands will be located.
The ARM Fund is managed by DES, which allocates grants to support projects that restore, enhance and preserve aquatic resources and upland buffers. Since 2007, the ARM Fund has been used to restore a variety of wetland habitats, conserve more than 12,000 acres of land, restore 100 acres of wetland, and improve more than 45 miles of streams.
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) will hear from a panel of five experts this week covering a wide range of topics related to Northern Pass and the environment.
Members of the panel include Robert Varney, president of Normandeau Associates and former commissioner of the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES); Jake Tinus, project manager in the Environmental Studies and Permitting Global Practice for Burns & McDonnell Engineering, who has assessed the potential impact of Northern Pass on surface water and groundwater quality; Lee Carbonneau, senior principal scientist in the Wetlands/Terrestrial Group and assistant project manager for Normandeau Associates, who also serves as the permitting lead for Northern Pass; Dennis McGee, vice president at Normandeau Associates and senior consultant on special projects, who conducted analysis on the potential impacts Northern Pass could have on rare plants and rare or unusual natural communities; and Dr. Sarah Barnum, senior wildlife ecologist at Normandeau Associates and the author of the report Northern Pass Transmission Project Wildlife Report and Impact Assessment October 2015.
Topics that are likely to be discussed include:
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee resumed discussions about the project today, focusing on the economic benefits of Northern Pass to New Hampshire and the effect it will have on the region’s carbon emissions.
Julia Frayer, a managing director with London Economics, will discuss her research on the potential impact Northern Pass will have on the wholesale electricity market, the environment, and the local economy. Frayer specializes in economic analysis and market design issues related to energy infrastructure, such as electric generation facilities, natural gas-related infrastructure, and electricity transmission and distribution systems. She has consulted for a number of regulatory agencies across North America, including Connecticut’s Department of Public Utility Control and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Some key points likely to be discussed today include:
Don’t’ miss your final chance to comment on Northern Pass! Tomorrow, May 31 is the deadline to sign up for one of the public comment sessions the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) is holding as part of its review of Northern Pass. These are the last public hearings the SEC will have about Northern Pass and your final opportunity to tell state officials your thoughts on the project.
The public hearings will be held on June 15, June 22 and July 20 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., at 49 Donovan Street in Concord. People have the option of submitting a public comment or providing oral comment at the session.
The SEC is requiring people who wish to provide an oral comment to pre-register to ensure the proceedings run efficiently and smoothly. If you would like to present an oral statement, please send an email no later than May 31 to Marissa Schuetz, Program Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the following information in your email:
The SEC will post a schedule of speakers on its website (www.nhsec.nh.gov/projects/2015-06/2015-06.htm) in advance of the first public statement hearing date. People who sign up to comment are asked to review the roster to see which day they are scheduled to speak. If there is time remaining on any of these public comment days, members of the public that did not pre-register will be provided time to speak after those that did pre-register.
We encourage those who are interested in submitting a comment to do so, either in person during one of the public comment sessions, or in writing. You can submit your written comment today by sending it to:
or by mail to:
New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee
Pamela G. Monroe, Administrator
21 South Fruit Street, Suite 10
Concord, NH 03301-2429