It was a big year for Northern Pass. In 2015, we announced the Forward NH Plan and a unveiled a redesigned route that includes underground along roads in and around the White Mountain National Forest and Franconia Notch region. The plan has nearly $4 billion in benefits for New Hampshire and the region, including reduced energy costs, increased tax revenues for New Hampshire communities, a $2.1 billion boost to the state economy and the creation of 2,400 jobs.
Northern Pass also filed its application with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), the state’s siting authority for significant energy projects. We held five Public Information Sessions where residents learned more about the project and submitted comments to the SEC, and we met with municipalities and residents along the route throughout the fall, answering their questions and gathering their feedback.
As the year comes to a close and we prepare for 2016, we wanted to look at the milestones Northern Pass has already reached, and also provide you with information about the next steps the project will take.
January 29: The Coös County Jobs Creation Association announces its members made up of local residents and business owners.
March 26: Northern Pass partners with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to create the $3 million Partners for New Hampshire’s Fish and Wildlife. The program aims to protect and restore healthy forests and rivers throughout the state through grants to local organizations doing work to sustain local habitats.
July 21: The Department of Energy releases its draft Environmental Impact Statement, examining the potential impact the project could have on the environment and economy. It shows overall potential visual impact of the project will be low to very low, that Northern Pass will generate $564 million in economic output during construction, and will reduce regional carbon emissions by 8 percent.
August 18: Northern Pass announces the Forward NH Plan, which includes 52 additional miles of underground line, for a total of 60 miles underground, and nearly $4 billion in benefits.
August 31: Hydro-Québec and Eversource Energy reaffirm their commitment to bring clean, competitively-priced electricity to New Hampshire and the region.
September 2-10: Northern Pass held a series of pre-application Public Information Sessions in all five counties where the project will be located as part of our SEC filing process.
October 19: Northern Pass files its application with the SEC.
November 12: The U.S. Department of Energy releases a supplement to the draft Environmental Impact Statement, which focused on the portions of the route that include additional underground lines.
December 7: The SEC votes unanimously that the Northern Pass application is complete.
December 18: The SEC issues a written order officially deeming the Northern Pass application complete and moving the project forward in the state permitting process.
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) process will continue with five post-application Public Information Sessions in January.
The Department of Energy will also host a series of public hearings where residents can comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement on Northern Pass. The times and locations will be announced soon.
Manchester, N.H., January 29, 2014 – The Northern Pass project, a proposed transmission line carrying low-cost renewable hydroelectric power to New Hampshire and New England, announces the formation of the Coös County Jobs Creation Association. The Association held its first official meeting today at the Mountain View Grand in Whitefield.
The $7.5 million Jobs Creation fund, announced last August, is aimed specifically at creating jobs in the state’s North Country. The Association is made up of Coös County business and economic development leaders who will ultimately decide how best to invest these funds for maximum job creation.
Former State Senator John Gallus of Gallus & Green Real Estate in Berlin will chair the Association. Joining him are Allen Bouthillier, owner of AB Logging in Lancaster; David Atkinson, also of AB Logging in Lancaster and former manager of the Wausau Paper Mill in Groveton; Chris Diego, managing director of the Mountain View Grand in Whitefield; and Ted Burns, co-owner of the Grand Ole Lodge in North Stratford.
“The Coös Jobs Creation Association is one more tool in our economic development tool box to build new and sustainable jobs,” said Gallus. “We owe it to our children to create a secure local future for them here in Coös County. Our young workers have had to leave home for far too long to support their families.”
The fund emphasizes job creation in the County, with a focus on supporting existing local businesses that are expanding or renovating, or helping to attract new businesses to the area. It was created after months of discussions between Northern Pass and local leaders and business people about economic development in Coös County.
“The Coös County Jobs Creation Association, with this leadership, will go a long way in helping North Country residents build a stronger economy,” said Gary Long, President – New Hampshire Renewable Energy Policy Development at Northeast Utilities. “Local control of the Association assures the funding will be used in ways that best support North Country growth by investing in initiatives that make sense for the region.”
Northern Pass is providing the Association with $200,000 in seed money to begin its work. The fund will receive $1 million at the time Northern Pass receives acceptable federal and state permits and actual construction commences, and $500,000 each year thereafter, until it has received $7.5 million total.
The Northern Pass project announced a new proposed route in the North Country last year and is in the midst of the U.S. Department of Energy’s permitting process. ISO-NE, the regional grid operator, granted the project a key approval in December 2013 and the DOE is expected to issue its draft Environmental Impact Statement later this year. A permit application will also be filed with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee to initiate the separate, state-level permitting process. Details on the project can be found at northernpass.us.
Lauren Collins, 603-634-2418, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Skelton, 603-634-3270, email@example.com
Public Invited to Attend Workshops on the State Process and Criteria for Siting Energy Facilities
During the first two weeks of December, the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (OEP) will be holding five workshops around the state to gather input from the public on the processes and criteria used by the state’s Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) to determine whether to permit the construction and operation of energy facilities. These include wind generation projects, natural gas pipelines, and electric transmission lines. This is an extremely complicated technical and legal issue that needs an informed discussion about how the SEC has performed over the years, how other states address the siting of energy projects, and what the possible repercussions of any potential changes would mean for the state’s energy future.
Northern Pass is just one project that could be affected by changes in the siting process and criteria. All energy projects proposed in the future may be caught up in such a change as well, a change which could have a ripple effect on jobs, energy costs and economic development for years to come. While this issue is complicated, your voice is important to effectively shape New Hampshire’s energy future. We ask you to consider attending one of the citizen workshops listed below. If you’d like to learn more about these workshops or want to attend, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workshops begin with sign-in at 5 p.m., and discussion begins at 6 p.m. They will end at approximately 9:30 p.m. Space is limited to 150-200 people depending on the site. You must pre-register to participate, and you may only sign up for one location.
To REGISTER for a Citizen Workshop: click here
December 3: Manchester Memorial High School Cafeteria
December 4: Groveton High School Gymnasium
December 5: Keene Recreation Center
December 9: Town of Newington Main Hall
December 10: Plymouth Regional High School in Plymouth
Why is this important?
Northern Pass must obtain a number of state and federal permits before it can begin construction. One of these permits is a Certificate of Site and Facility, which grants state authority to proposed energy facilities to move forward. This certificate is given by the Site Evaluation Committee.
The SEC was formed in 1971 by the Legislature to regulate the siting of large electric generating stations and transmission lines. It reviews a developer’s financial, technical and managerial ability to construct and operate a project. It also considers whether the project’s development would unduly interfere with “orderly development of the region” or have an “unreasonable adverse effect” on a number of factors, including historic sites, air and water quality, and the public health and safety.
Northern Pass will bring 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower into New Hampshire through a 300 kV high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line, so it must go before the Site Evaluation Committee for approval. This is expected to happen sometime in 2014.
This well-established process is facing changes because of a bill passed earlier this year aimed at overhauling the system.
Senate Bill 99, also known as SB 99, required the Office of Energy and Planning to hire an outside consulting group to generate reports on the SEC process and its energy facility siting criteria. The consultants were not hired until the end of September and are required to produce two full reports by the end of the year. We feel this is an unrealistic timeline for such a complex and critical undertaking.
The SB 99 citizen workshops have been scheduled as part of this process and are being widely advertised. People are being asked to come and answer questions on complex regulatory topics before the questions that will be asked have even been written. This approach is flawed; more time is needed for the consultants to do an adequate job for any useful information to come out of the workshops.
We have no issue with reviewing government regulations, especially in light of the recent Business Industry Association report calling for a streamlined SEC process. But at a time when clean sources of power are needed in New England, it is troubling that SB 99 could result in making the process harder for all energy projects, including Northern Pass. We feel that both New Hampshire and the SEC process are not well-served by a SB 99 process that lacks sufficient time, resources, and expertise in the siting process. The discussion should also provide a meaningful perspective on energy supply issues that are of critical importance to New Hampshire.
What’s at stake?
As it stands, the Legislature’s deadlines, and the efforts of the OEP and its consultants to meet those deadlines, have created a dilemma for those who support a strong and stable energy future for New Hampshire. How do we work within a flawed process and avoid a situation that could produce unreliable data from these workshops, and which would then would then be used by legislators who are determined to prevent the construction of energy projects in New Hampshire?
That is why people with a wide range of opinions should be present at these workshops – not just people opposed to energy projects – to give the state the information it needs to determine whether New Hampshire should change the siting process that has served it well for many years.
The purpose of SB 99 is to review New Hampshire’s current permitting process for energy facility projects, but it has the potential to adversely change the way in which energy projects are sited in New Hampshire. Despite many siting professionals’ opinions that New Hampshire’s current process works well, opponents of energy projects see SB 99 as an opportunity to create new regulatory hurdles to stop energy development in New Hampshire. Permitting is a major aspect of any energy project, and adding additional costs, time and regulatory uncertainty has the effect of driving away energy development in our state.
The SB 99 consultant responsible for carrying out the studies is surveying New Hampshire citizens about their views on energy development and permitting. Your opinion is very important to ensure that permitting of energy projects remains fair and considers the views of all New Hampshire citizens – not just those that oppose energy projects.
What the project will look like and where it will be visible are among the most common questions we hear from residents and landowners. These discussions, unfortunately, are often subject to misinformation, speculation, and inaccurate conclusions of what the actual visual impact of the project will be.
Fortunately, a process is in place to provide clear, factual answers. The state and federal permitting process require professional view impact assessments produced by independent experts. The public deserves no less than a thorough analysis done by such experts, and based on accurate data.
We raise this issue because, yet again, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) is providing misleading information to the public about the potential visual impacts of the project. The AMC recently released a series of videos that claim to show the project’s visual impacts. In reality, the videos do not conform to any widely accepted visual assessment methodologies, and do not offer an accurate visual assessment of the project.
AMC suggests that the videos depict the “highest visual impacts” within a ½ mile of the project, with no qualification of the nature of that visibility, other than the potential number of structures visible. In accepted visual impact assessment methodologies, visibility alone is not considered to be an adverse or unacceptable impact. That determination is made by considering additional factors such as viewing distance, how much of the individual structures are visible, the height, type and color of those structures, the context within which the structures are viewed, and the sensitivity of the resource or viewing locations. In addition, no explanation was provided to indicate how “tower visibility” was determined or whether the video accounted for topography and tree heights (It did not).
Rather than provide this important data and analysis, the AMC video instead relies on generalities and overly broad assertions that are not supported by facts and ignore the methodologies commonly employed by visual experts.
It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that AMC has opted to again mislead the public on this issue. The organization has made its opposition to Northern Pass publicly known in many forums, and has used the project as a fundraising tool. The AMC has a clear bias and we believe it is incapable of providing a fair analysis of the project.
The federal and state permitting processes, which require Northern Pass to use professional visual experts and accepted methodologies, will provide the public with an accurate, clear, factual assessment of the visual impacts of the project.
Whether it is wind, solar, new transmission lines, or a power plant – all energy projects carry impacts of varying degrees. Northern Pass is no different, but the public consideration of the project’s impacts, including its tremendous energy, economic, and environmental benefits, must be based on facts.
The project yesterday concluded a successful series of 14 open house events.
The final open house drew several dozen interested residents of Sugar Hill, Easton and neighboring towns to the Sunset Hill Inn in Sugar Hill. The open houses were focused on providing information to residents and landowners specifically regarding the project as proposed in their area.
About midway through last night’s event, A group of project opponents asked that we change the format of the open house to something similar to a town hall meeting. For our part, we indicated we would be willing to participate at such an event in the future, but that we were committed to the more personal, one-on-one format we’ve used, and has been received well, in every other town along the route. While no individuals were asked to leave, a number of attendees announced their opposition to the project and chose at that time to leave the open house.
Good and productive conversations continued with those residents who chose to remain. Our thanks to the residents, and to the innkeepers at the Sunset Hill Inn, for their hospitality. We look forward to additional opportunities in the future to talk about how we can work together to ensure that the project is the best possible for New Hampshire and the region.
Project representatives will be heading to Sugar Hill this week to meet with residents and landowners at another Northern Pass open house. This event will give residents an opportunity to speak with project representatives, including engineers, property tax analysts and environmental experts. Local officials and residents are encouraged to attend. Materials and visual simulations specific to the Sugar Hill area will be available.
Sugar Hill Open House
Wednesday, Oct. 23
Sunset Hill House
231 Sunset Hill Road
Drop by anytime between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm
For the past few months, we’ve been visiting towns along the project’s proposed route to provide residents and landowners with detailed information about the project and to answer their questions. We’ve provided visual simulations of where the lines will be located as well as information about structure design, increased tax revenue, and jobs.
At all the events, we’ve also gathered feedback from residents, local officials and landowners. Northern Pass representatives appreciate the respectful conversations we have had throughout our open house series and look forward to continuing the dialogue this week in Sugar Hill.
We were pleased to participate in a project update and site tour today for the Groveton Cell Tower project atop Morse Mountain. This much needed project will boost broadband and cellular coverage in the Groveton area and help economic development efforts in the region. We’d like to thank the many project partners and stakeholders that helped move this great project forward and we look forward to working collaboratively on more community initiatives in the future.
A news release distributed by the project partners on today’s update and site tour is posted below.
North Country Communication Tower near Completion
Northern Pass, NCIC, PSNH and others mark project milestone
Groveton, NH (October 21, 2013) – Communications in New Hampshire’s North Country will see a marked improvement with the completion of a new multi-use communication tower. Construction of the structure on the summit of Morse Mountain in Groveton is nearly complete, marking a major achievement in the challenge to fill existing gaps in the area’s broadband and cellular coverage. Members of the area media were provided today with a tour of the site where construction is underway.
“Communication projects like this are comparable to the building of our highway system many years ago,” said Gary Long, on behalf of Northern Pass, a project sponsor. “They bring economic and educational opportunities to communities in need.”
In the future, the 195 foot high structure will host cellular calling equipment that will improve safety and emergency response, benefiting the local community as well as tourists in the region. Internet service is also expected to benefit, by strengthening an existing wireless network.
“The future is getting brighter for Groveton,” said Jon Freeman, president of the Northern Community Investment Corporation (NCIC). “Our area businesses will see tremendous benefit from this project. It is difficult to compete in today’s economy without cell service and high-speed Internet. Now, with the structure nearly complete, our goal is in sight.”
Freeman thanked the partners who worked to secure funding and approval for the communications tower, including the Economic Development Administration, the Northern Borders Regional Commission, the Northern Pass project and Public Service of New Hampshire, which provided substantial funds that allowed the project to move forward.
“We are delighted to be part of this important initiative,” said Gary Long. “It takes a collaborative effort to turn big ideas into big successes. This was a great team effort, and Northern Pass is looking forward to more opportunities like this in the future.”
The tower infrastructure will be completed this month. Equipment used to communicate with PSNH crews will be placed on it soon, and it is expected that area fire and law enforcement communication gear may soon follow. There are plans next spring to install equipment to strengthen an existing network that provides Internet service – and, several national wireless networks are considering utilizing the tower to expand service in the area.
Groveton Regional Economic Action Team (GREAT)
Northern Border Regional Commission
Northern Community Investment Corporation (NCIC)
Northern Pass Transmission LLC
Public Service of New Hampshire
U.S. Economic Development Administration
Northern Pass will continue to meet with residents and landowners along the proposed transmission line route this week at another one of our open houses.
Pembroke and Allenstown
St. John The Baptist Parish Hall
10 School Street
Suncook, NH 03275
Drop in anytime between 5:30 and 7:30 PM
Northern Pass open houses have been an opportunity to meet with people, talk to them about the project benefits and to answer their questions. Residents of Pembroke and Allenstown will have the chance this week to speak with project representatives, including engineers and environmental experts. They can learn about job opportunities, view visual simulations and ask questions about everything from structure design to line location.
Like all towns and cities along the proposed route, Pembroke and Allenstown will see an increase in property tax revenue from the project. Residents will also benefit from the added taxes Northern Pass will pay Merrimack County and toward state education. In addition to these benefits, Northern Pass will bring 1,200 megawatts of clean, low cost Canadian hydropower to New Hampshire and the region, enough to power 1 million homes. The project is expected to create 1,200 jobs during construction, $28 million annually in new tax revenue and reduce energy costs for New Hampshire customers by $20 million to $35 million annually.
Northern Pass representatives will have more information on hand about these benefits at the upcoming open houses. If you would like to learn more about these upcoming events, visit the open house page on our website
A series of public meetings were held last month to give New Hampshire residents the chance to share their thoughts on the proposed Northern Pass transmission line project. These events, called scoping meetings, were just part of the ongoing public input process. Many people have already registered their comments through emails and letters. If you haven’t made an official comment on Northern Pass yet, you have just a few more weeks to do so.
From now until Nov. 5, the U.S. Department of Energy will accept written comments on the Northern Pass transmission line.
Here in New Hampshire residents have discussed both sides of this issue with friends, at the corner store and on the editorial pages of our local newspapers. Those discussions are now headed to the Department of Energy and our elected officials in the form of letters and emails. If you support Northern Pass and the clean energy, jobs and economic benefits it will bring New Hampshire, we ask you consider writing a letter to the Department of Energy, our governor and our Congressional delegation.
We understand many of you are busy and may not have much time to submit a comment. However, these letters don’t have to be lengthy; they can be a few short messages about why you favor the project. We appreciate any time and effort you make to show your support.
Below you will find the addresses for the Department of Energy, Gov. Maggie Hassan and our Congressional leaders. We ask you send a copy of your letter or email to everyone on this list to ensure our government and elected officials know that New Hampshire residents want to see more jobs, lower energy rates, more tax revenue and a cleaner energy future.
Northern Pass encourages supporters to let their voice be heard and we thank you again for whatever time you give.
Letters to the Department of Energy can be sent by mail, email, fax or through the online comment form
Senior Planning Advisor
Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE-20)
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20585
Gov. Maggie Hassan
Office of the Governor
State House, 107 North Main St.
Concord, NH 03301
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen
520 Hart SOB
Washington, D.C. 20510
Sen. Kelly Ayotte
144 Russell SOB
Washington, D.C. 20510
Rep. Ann McLane Kuster
137 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter
1530 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Northern Pass team will continue to meet with residents and landowners along the proposed route next week at two open house events.
Tuesday, October 8 – Deerfield
American Legion Hougue-Batchelder Post 103
37 North Road – Deerfield, NH
Thursday, October 10 – Franklin/Hill/Northfield
Franklin Elks Lodge No. 1280
190 Central Street – Franklin, NH
Drop in anytime between 5:30 and 7:30 PM
Open houses are part of the project’s commitment to working with communities and residents to answer and address questions about the project. Up until now, many of our open houses have been held in the northern part of the state. These events next week give people who live in central and southern New Hampshire an opportunity to speak one-on-one with project representatives, including engineers and environmental experts. They can learn about job opportunities, view visual simulations and ask questions about everything from structure design to line location.
Northern Pass will bring 1,200 megawatts of clean, low cost Canadian hydropower to New Hampshire and the region, enough to power 1 million homes. The project is expected to create 1,200 jobs during construction, $28 million in new tax revenue and reduce energy costs for New Hampshire customers by $20 million to $35 million annually. Like all towns and cities along the proposed route, Deerfield, Franklin, Hill and Northfield will see an increase in property tax revenue from the project. Based on 2011 property tax rates, Deerfield could see more than $1 million in additional revenue, while Franklin could see more than $6 million.
Northern Pass representatives will have more information on hand about these benefits at the upcoming open houses. If you would like to learn more about these upcoming events, visit the open house page on our website.